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Familiar Wild Bieds. 



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GREY WAGTAIL , 
(I Scale) 



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CONTENTS. %'^^ / 



Grey Wagtail 

woodlakk 

Cheeper .... 

Turtle Dove . 

Kingfisher 

Black-heaued Bunting . 

CuMMON Snipe 

Great Spotted Woodpecker 

Common Wren 

EOBIN .... 

Thrush .... 

Jackdaw .... 

Siskin . ' . 

Wryneck 

Whitethroat . 

Golden-crested Wren . 

Jay 

Green Woodpecker 

Greenfinch 

Kedstart .... 



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CONTENTS. 



Smew 

KocK PiriT 
Kino DOVE. 

Meklin 
dottekkl 
KotK Dove 
Sanuekling 
Long-tailed Tit 
Little Avk 
Common Gull . 
Shore Lakk 
Gannet . 
Maush Tit 
Nioiitingale . 
c'oumouant 

Red-leggeu Paiitkidge 
Cole Tit . 

GuitLEMOT 

Oys^ek-catcheh 



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14.) 

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1/ , 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



THE OREY WAOTAIL. 

Motac'iUa sulpliurca. 
Motacilla boarnht. 




HERE is peiha])s no mens 
ber of the feathered tribes 
found in the British Isles 
more elegant in shape, 
more nimble and dexter- 
ous in movement, or hand- 
somer in plumage, than 
the Gre y W agtail. The 
most indifferent observer, 
who may chance to watch 
a pair of these pretty lit- 
tle creatures by the side 
of some sparkling stream, 
now running rapidly over 
stone and weed, and now 
flying for a few yards 
with graceful undulatory 
motion, cannot fail to be 
charmed with their beauty 
and agility. 

The Grey Wagtail is a 
continual resident in all 
the southern parts of 
Europe, and is said to be 



2 TAMIIJAlt WILT) BIRDS. 

met with in India, Java, and Japan. In our own country 
it is fairly distributed over most parts, with the ex- 
ception of the extreme northern counties. 

Tlie Grey Wagtail is of a retiring- and solitary dis- 
position, seldom being seen except singly or at most in 
pairs, and apparently eschewing altogether the society of 
other birds. Its favourite haunts arc the sides of running 
streams, ditches, quarries containing water, ponds and 
pools, or in fact at any piece of water, if only in a tub ; 
although like other wagtails it may now and then be 
seen running quickly along the top of some shed or farm 
outhouse in pursuit of flies or small insects. The food 
consists of insects, very small water-snails, and the various 
sorts of minute living creatures that abound on the margins 
of watery places in general. 

The flight of the Grey Wagtail is similar to that of the 
other members of the family, being light, tolerably fast, 
and composed of a series of rapid and graceful undulations. 
The note is not very strong, and may be described as a 
shrill " tweet tweet,^' which is repeated in a louder key, 
and more frequently when the bird is suddenly disturbed 
and takes to flight. Under any circumstances, however, 
it seldom flies to any great distance, but soon returns to 
the waterside as before. 

Its favourite nesting place is amongst the grass, 
or stones, or hollows in banks, and in most cases pretty 
near the sides of a stream. Instances, however, are upon 
record of this bird selecting very different homes, such as a 
greonhouse ^passing to and fro through a hntken s(juare of 
glass) or a window-sill ; and Morris mentions a case in which 
the ne^t was built between some railway svj'itches, within 
close j)roximity of passing trains. The nest is constructed 



THE GREY WAGTAIL. 3 

of dried bents of hay and grass, fibrous roots and twigs 
carefully lined with hair, wool, or a few feathers. About 
si}^ eggs are laid, of a greyish or dirty ish white, with 
markings of lig-ht-grey and brown ; they are of a short oval 
shape, and vary exceedingly in colour and marking-. 

The male bird is about eight, inches in length, about 
half of which measurement is taken_ up by the tail. 
The bill is dusky brown; a dark grey streak passes from 
the bill through the eye. Above the iris is a light buff- 
coloured mark, and a similar one below; the forehead, 
crown, back of neck and sides of head are grey, slightly 
tinged with greenish yellow ; the chin and throat are 
black, edged with white, and buff-white in winter, chang- 
ing to grey until the beginning of April. The breast, 
especially the lower part, is a beautiful bright yellow, in 
winter greyish-white with a faint tinge of yellow ; black, 
grey, and yeUowish towards the tail. The wings are 
dusky black, with markings of white, and the tail is 
brownish-black, with the outer feathers white; the under 
tail coverts are bright yellow, and the legs, toes, and claws 
are of a brownish-yellow. The female is smaller than the 
male, the throat is tinged with yellow, and in summer the 
black patch changes to dark grey mottled with yellowish- 
grey. The young birds do not assume the adult plumage 
until after the first autumnal moult. They have a very 
noticeable habit of expanding the tail on first alighting, 
thereby plainly showing the white feai-bers on each side. 

These wagtails are migrating birds, leaving the north 
for the south about August or September, and returning 
about February or March. They are very partial to 
localities, and the same birds return to the same quarters 
year after year ; they appear to visit certain places at 



4 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

stated times, and can generally be found in a particular 
spot if their habits are closely studied ; they also exhibit 
extreme puo-nacity of disposition, and will readily show 
fight if interfered with. 

It has a peculiar habit of remaining motionless if 
surprised, and will even allow anyone to pass near it with- 
out moving, although immediately afterwards it will fly off 
uttering its short call note. It is a very nice bird for an 
aviar}', where it becomes very tame, and is universally 
admired. Under such circumstances it requires plenty of 
water and the same treatment as a nightingale. 

The Grey_Wag(ail is often called the Dun WagtaiO?f 




^ 







WOODLARK. 
(I Scale.) 



Iftpnductd 6r MndrtA SItIgh, Ltd., 
Buthty, Htrtt 



THE WOODLAEK. 



Alnuda arhorea. 





HIS cliarmino^ songster^ although 
neither so well known nor so 
highly appreciated as its near 
relative the Sk^rk, is never- 
theless a most sw^et and ac- 
complished vocalist. By some 
ardent admirers it is even con- 
sidered seco_nd onjy to the 
Nightingale, so plaintive, full, 
and pleasing are the melodies 
it utters. 

It is never found so abund- 
antly as the Skylark, although 
in hard weather the birds con- 
gregate in flocks in the neigh- 
bourhood oi the sea-shore, roam- 
ing about in search of food, and, 
of course, offering irresistible 
temptations to destroyers of 
various sorts. They commonly 
keep in parties varying from 
three to twenty — occasionally 
single specimens are met with. 
They may be easily recognised 



6 FAMILIAR WILD lilRBS. 

when tlying by the shortness of the tail and the rounded 
appearance of the wings. Roug-h grass lands, where woods, 
copses, and plantations are scattered about, are the spots 
most resorted to by the Wo odla rk ; and in the winter, 
brick-yards and stubble-fields ai-e veiy favourite haunts. 
Amongst other places, it is commonly met with in the 
Weald of Sussex, and sometimes, though rarely, on the 
Downs. 

The food consists of small seeds, grains, insects, eater- 
pillars, and worms. In periods of long-continued frost 
or snow they frequent tiie high roads in search of food. 
When u])()n the ground, the Woodlark walks in a some- 
what slow and dignified manner, except upon alighting 
from some aerial journey, when, as soon as it reaches io'ra 
firnia, it usually runs for a few paces. The bird generally 
roosts on the ground. Its character is by no means shy 
or cautious, and on the near approach of danger it will 
often squat on the ground. 

The song is uttered both wheji^the bird is perched on 
the bough of somejtree, and when soaring at a great height 
in the air. The upward flight is made b}^ executing a 
series of circles, increasing in area as the bird ascends, 
until the extent of its ascension is reached. During these 
soarin^novements the altit_ude attained is greater even than 
that of thft. Skylark, and the song is usually sustained 
during the entire process. Its return to mother earth is 
made by a similar series of graduated circular sweei)s, 
often with the wings extended and motionless. The call- 
note, which is continually \ittered during flight, somewhat 
resembles the words '' tweedle, weedle, weedle,'' repeated 
several times. 

The song of the Woodlark has been I'roquently referred 



THE WOODLARK, ^ 

to by poets and other writers in terms of pleasure and 
admiration. One speaks of the 

" Wild unfrequent note of the lone Woodlark." 

And Gilbert White, the eminent naturalist of Selborne, 
sing-s of the pleasures of a summer evening in the country, 

when 

" Blended objects fail the swimming sight, 
And all the fading landscape sinks in night, 
While high in aii- and poised upon his wings 
Unseen, the soft enamoured Woodlark sings." 

The nest is built of grass, thin fibrous roots, thin twi^s, 
and occasionally moss, with a lining of liner grass or hair. 
Usually it is placed under some tuft of grass, or at the side 
of a stump of a tree, and at times in the side of a bank. 
Foui- or five^gs are laid, of a pale brownish-white or brown- 
ish-yellow, spotted with greyish or reddish-brown, and per- 
haps a few marks or lines at the larger end. The eggs have 
been found as early as February, but are generally laid in 
March ; they are, however, not uufrequently found as late 
as July. 

The plumage of the Woodlark is quiet and unpre- 
tending ; the beak is dark brown above and pale yellow 
underneath ; over the eye and ear-coverts there is a streak 
of pale yellowish-brown. The feathers on the top of 
the head are light brown, streaked with a darker shade, form- 
ing a crest, which the bird frequently elevates. The upper 
part of the body is wood-brown, with streaks and patches 
of brownish-black on the neck and back. The tail is short, 
and is brownish-black, triangularly tipped with white, and 
has a light brown feather on each side, and a couple of 
])ale brown ones in the centre ; the under parts are pale 
yell()wish-l)ro\vn, speckled with long marks of dark brown. 



8 FAMILIAR JIJLI) BIRDS. 

thinly scattered about the throat, and larger and more 
numerous on the breast; there are no marks on the belly; 
the legs, toes, and elaws are brown, and the hind claw is 
long and curved. 

There is not much difl'erence in the appearance of the 
sexes ; in the female the breast is said to be not so yellow, 
and the dark markings are larger than in the male, 
but it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. 

The WoyiJJ'^i'l^ ^s found in Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset- 
shire, Somersetshire, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, 
Lancashire, and Yorkshire. In the extreme west and 
north of England it is but seldom seen. It is a constant 
resident in many of the southern European countries, and 
in the summer is said to visit Denmark, Russia, and 
SwedeiyX 




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I 



CREEPER, 
(J Scale.) 



Ktpn>duo»d 6y tndri A ililgh. Ui., 



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THE CREEPER. 



Ctrthia famUiaris. 




P HE Creeper is one of those 
birds whoso habits and 
general disposition are such 
as to suggest a greater 
degree of rarity than really 
corresponds with facts. It 
is known generally as the 
" Troe„ Cree]>/' or '' Troji 
Climber/' and is fomui 
more or less in all parts of 
the British Islands. Eussin, 
Norway, Denmark, Sweden, 
Gorniany, and Italy, are also 
mentioned as countries in 
which this little bird is 
commonly met with. 

The Creeper is wonderfully 
active and industrious, and 
is seldom seen unless engaged 
in jn'ocuring food, either for 
itself or its progeny. It is 
very shy and retiring, and as 
soon as it becomes aware 
tliat it is the subject of 



10 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

iiu[uisitive examination, it very quickly places the entire 
thickness of the tree ou which it may be at work between 
itselt' and the too curious observer. In addition to its 
sliyness, the Creeper's plumage is very sober and unob- 
trusive in its character, and closely resembles in colour the 
rough ashen-brown bark of trees, so that were it not for the 
piping " twee-twee " that it so frequently utters, it would 
be very difticult indeed to discover its whereabouts. 

The Creeper feeds principally upon spiders and the 
various insects that abound in the bark of trees, and up )n 
the cater4)illars and beetles that are commonly found in 
trees, or upon old fences and wooden buildings. In ascend- 
ing the trunk of a tree the movements of the bird are 
rapid and continuous, the tail, which is composed of stiff 
feathers, being curved down upon the bark, and affording 
its owner considerable support and assistance. The upward 
progress of the bird consists of a series of short quick 
movements — so quick, indeed, as almost to convey the idea 
of sliding over the surface. Every part is carefully 
scrutinised, and when the search, which terminates at the 
top of the tree, is concluded, it quickly Hits to the next 
tree and recommences its labours, which always begin 
at the base and terminate at the top. The flight is undu- 
lating, and very seldom sustained for any great distance. 

The nest of the Creeper is usually placed in some cra^k 
of a trc^, or some sheltering jnecjuality in the baric, and 
is built of dried_jjrass, straws, twijjs, and fibrous roots, 
lined with featliers and wool. Occasionally it is found in 
some crevice of a woodstack. The nest is a handsome 
little structure, and well worthy of notice; very fre<|uently 
the crevice selected is too large for the intended domicile, 
and the supertluous space is cleverly lilled up with a 



THE CREEPER. 11 

quantity of very fine twigs. The number of eg-g-s varies 
from four or five up to seven or eig-lit. They are of a 
white colour^ spotted — sometimes at the thick end, 
and sometimes all over — with reddish, or reddish-brown. 
The young ones are hatched in about a fortnight, and 
generally make their appearance about the beginning of 
May. The Creeper rears two broods in the year, according 
to Naumann ; but the second brood is not so large as the 
first, usually numbering from three to five. 

Woods and plantations are the comm on resorts of the 
Creeper, but it may be seen very often by the careful observer 
in those quiet country lanes where old and isolated trees are 
found alono; the hedgeside. According to some authorities 
the Creeper may be observed, usually in the morning and 
evening, by the side of watercourses and ditches, either for 
the purpose of drinking or bathing. 

The length of this bird is from five to five and a quarter 
inches ; the bill is long, slender, and curved downwards, the 
upper part being ridged and larger than the lower ; the 
lower mandible is a dull yellowish- white, the upper, dusky- 
brown. The irides are brown, and a white streak runs over 
the e^'^e to the nape, where it ends in a spot. The sides of 
the head, the crown and neck, are brownish-ash colour, with 
dull white spots and markings of a yellowish shade ; a 
dusky streak runs backwards from the eye. Chin and 
throat are white; breast, a soiled silvery- white, yellowish 
on the lower part and the sides. Back resembles the 
neck. The wings are dusky, the feathers of the coverts 
l)eing tipped with white. A band of yellowish-white runs 
across a portion of the wing, which forms a straight line 
when the wing is extended, and a wavy mark when it is 
closed. 



li 



FAMILIAR WILD BIltLS. 



The tail is a reddish or brownish asli colour, yellowish 
towards the outer edg'e ; upper tail c^nerts are ting-ed with 
tuwny rust colour ; the under tail coverts, reddish-yellow 
tipped with white. The legs, toes, and claws are pale 
yellow-brown ; the claws are very long and much curved. 

The female resembles the male in size and plumagej }{ 



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TURTLE DOVE, 
(2 Scale) 



Rtproituetd hn Andri A Shigl), Ud.i 




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THE TURTLE DOVE. 



Culuinba iurtur. 
Turf ID- aurilHs.- 




ERHAPS no bird, either in 
tliis country or elsewhere, is 
so inseparably connected 
with pleasing and senti- 
mental associations as the 
Turtle Dove. 

Its strong unswerving at- 
tachment to its mate, its 
gentle confiding disposition, 
and elegant a^^pearance, have 
been from time immemorial 
the admiration of mankind. 
These pleasing characteristics 
have furnished unfailing 
themes and apt similes for 
the poet, the preacher, the 
philosopher, and the moral- 
ist ; whilst the numerous 
records of its gentleness 
and conjugal devotion are 
thoroughly well known to 
everyone, and have long 
since become proverbial. 
Notwithstanding;- this 



14. FAMILIAR hi LI) BIRDS. 

pleasing list of excellences, it must be confessed that 
at times the deportment of the Turtle Dove in cap- 
tivity is subject to some considerable variations. In 
an aviary it frequently becomes quarrelsome and apt 
to bully and drive the smaller birds away from their 
food ; and even when more than a pair are kept tog-ether 
without any other sorts of birds violent quarrels will 
take place between them, and the weaker bird is often 
subjected to harsh and unneiglibourly treatment. 

Owing to the fact that the Turtle Dove is more generally 
ke_pt in confinement than any otiier member of the large 
family to which it belongs, it is much better^ known as 
a domestic _pet than as a Familiar Wild Bird. Indeed, 
as a wild bird it is not so frequently seen or so commonly 
known as may be imagined. Turtle Doves are of entirel}' 
migratory habits, travelling to us from the African 
Continent, and also visiting many of the European coun- 
tries. They make their appearance with us about the 
beginning of !May, although the forwardness or otherwise 
of the spring affects their movements to a great extent, 
and some remain in this country until the end of September. 
In the order of their migration the males usually precede 
"he females. 

The food consists of the various sorts of grain, peas 
(to which they are -extremely^ partial), and seeds of all de- 
scriptions. They invariajjly feed upon the ground, and are 
constant visitors to large open tracts of freshly-sown land. 
Cornlields that border upon small or large streams are 
veiy favourite haunts, the birds being I'ond of driidving and 
l)alhi!ig. They usually feed and go about in small llucks 
varying in numbers from half a dozen u\^ to twenty or 
more, and at the close of the day's foraging they retire to 



\ 



rilE TURTLE DOVE. lo. 

roost aiTiongst the hig-ber branches of trees. The flig-ht is 
easy, buoyant^ and rapid. 

On their first appearance they do not seem to be 
13articularly shy, but as the nesting operations proceed 
they become much more cautious, and are then approached 
with difficulty. The nest^ is a rather slovenly struc- 
ture. It is composed of twigs and sticks carelessly put 
togeUier in a tree, and not very far removed from the 
ground, seldom more than fifteen or twenty feet, and some- 
times not more than four feet. The eggs are pure white, 
and of a very shiny, polished appearance. They never exceed 
two in numbei*, and are of a long oval shape, with slightly 
pointed extremities. xVt times the eggs may be plainly 
seen through the bottom of the nest, so little is the trouble 
bestowed by the birds in the construction of their home. 

The Turtle Dove is nearly thirteen inches in length, 
the bill dark greyish-black, much flattened in the centre, 
and reddish on the inside; iris bright yellowish-red, 
the bare space around it light red ; sides of the head 
yellowish, changing to pink on the neck and breast; back 
of neck and crown light greyish-blue; on the sides of 
the neck there is a rounded patch of black, each feather 
being tipped with white and surrounded with a bluish 
tinge; in front it is a delicate light purplish red, 
fading into grey; chin pale brown; back greyish-brown 
above, and brownish on the lower part. The tail is long 
and much rounded; it is greyish-brown, many of the 
feathers being tipped with white. The wings are brownish- 
and greyish-brown, with markings of black in the centre of 
the feathers; the under wing-coverts are grey, and the 
under tail-coverts white. The legs and toes are red, and 
the claws blackish-brown. 



16 



FAMILIAR WILT) BIRDS. 



The female is of a rather lighter appearance than 
her mate, and as a rule not quite, so large, but the sex is 
/lifSeult to distinguish. The young birds are at lirst 
covered with a soft yellowish down, and the full plumage 
is only gradually obtained, not com})letely until their 
second year. 

The note of the Turtle Dove closely resembles the 
syllables " Tur-tur " repeated more or less rapidly — a cir- 
cumstance to which its name may be no doubt attributed^ A 








ftM^, 




KINGFISHER. 
a Scale.) 



fltproductd by Andri A SItIgh, Ltd., 
Buih*^. Htrt*. 



THE KINGFISHER., 

Alcedo ispida. 





ITHOUT doubt this^ is the 
most brilliantly beautiful of 
all Britisli__bircls ; in fact, it 
can vie_in the brilliaiicy of 
its i^lumage with most of 
the much-admired, highly- 
coloured, but generally song- 
less foreign birds. It seems 
to be a peculiarity of the bird- 
world that the song dete- 
riorates" in proportion to the 
beauty of the plumage ; for 
although the Kingfisher is 
our most orientally-coloured 
bird, its song is nothing to 
speak of. 

Yet those who have seen 
it skimming the river, flying 
along like a streak of coloured 
light, under the archways of 
rivers and streams, with a 
rapid, straight flight, can well 
understand the reason of its 
being classified among the 
'' Haley onidae.^-' 



18 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

Many luive been the notices from poets of this beauti- 
fully-pluma^ed bird, Shakespeare having many references 
to the " Halcyon " ; more especially as these birds were not 
only imagined to be able to determine the weather, but in 
case of storm or tempest were supposed to have a cpielling 
influence over them. We are afraid it is vice versa, and 
that (as with King Canute) the flooded river would not 
heed the Kingfisher, but would, doubtless, wreck the King- 
fisher'sjiest. 

The length of the Kingfisher is about seven inches. 
The pluniage may be thus described : From the crown 
of the head, down the neck, and the whole of the upper 
part, the wings, and tail, are of a brilliant green, shading 
from olive to iridescent emerald and blue ; from the beak 
across the eye is a patch of rufous, which becomes white 
below the ear-coverts; from the base of the beak runs a 
streak of the above-mentioned glossy green, which meets 
that upon the wing-coverts. The chin and throat are 
yellowish-white; the breast and under parts are rufous, 
deepening in colour as it proceeds towards the tail. The 
feet are pink and small. The tail is short; but the beak is 
long and straight.J The plumage is much brighter during 
the breeding season. The female may be distinguished by 
her duller hues, and from the l)ill not being so long. 

The ne^t has always been a source of wonder to orni- 
ihulogists. It is generally jilaced in some hole in a bank 
overhano^ing a stream, but sometimes placed away from 
water ; a favourite position is a hole in the bank of some 
river or stream which has been undermined by the action of 
the waters, and so affording a somewhat safer retreat from 
the depredations of the rats that frequent such places. 
The nest, too, is very peculiar. It would aj)pear to be 



I 



THE KINGFISHER. 19 

composed of the boues of the fish captured by the birds. 
Some naturalists have said that these bones are ^'cast'^ 
up by the birds, and that the nest is made upon this 
accumulation. It is generally well hidden, and, ex- 
cept for the rats, the Kingfisher, being so beautiful, need 
fear few foes ; it was, however, a favourite " sport ^' of 
some possessed of a gun, some years ago, to kill these 
beautiful birds ; and as they fly straight they are easily 
marked. Yet there are fewj^hings more interesting than 
to watch one of them whilst fishing. Many an Oxford 
man has seen these birds along the Cherwell, skimniing 
the water under Magdalen Bridge, or, having drifted 
noiselessly in his boat with the stream, has seen them 
seated upon an overhanging bough, watching the water 
with anxious eye until the long-wished-for prey appears. 
The Kingfisher then darts down, even swifter than a gull, 
secures its prey, and by its buoyancy regains the use of 
its wings, and flies off with the prize to its nest, if it 
be possessed of one, otherwise returning to its " post of 
vantage.^^ 

The general abode of the Kingfisher is near rivers, lakes, 
streams, brooks, ponds, and ditches, or indeed wherever 
food may be found. This fqod eonsjsts principally of small 
fish, such as minnows, sticklebacks, or any such-like smaller 
species of fish, water-beetles, and leeches. These are taken 
with the beak ; and the object aimed at is seldom missed. 

They are very pugnacious, and, consequently, lead a 
solitary life. Their pugnacity may be one of the reasons of 
their partial migration, which takes place often from one 
district to another; want of food, however, h doubtless the 
prime reason, more particularly in winter, when they have to 
find an unfrozen stream. They will, however, during frosts 



20 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

frequent the mouths of rivers, and even as far as to the sea- 
shore. 

The ei^s of the Kingfislier are jmre whjte, and generally 
from <ive to six in numher. The plnmao^e of the young is 
similar to that of the adult hirds, l)ut, of course, not so 
bright. 

The caH is but a shrill^pij)e, or squeal. 

Kingfishers may be kept in an aviary, provided proper 
food is given, putting birds caught young at first upon 
small fish, and gradually substituting fresh beef chopped 
small and hard-boiled Qrr&, It is not advisable to have more 
than a proper pair, on account of their very pugnacious 
habits. It is needless to say that if a little water be in- 
troduced into the aviary, and small fish be given, it is 
possible to make the Kingfisher one of the most beautiful 
and interesting of the inhabitants*X 




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BLACK-HEADED BUNTING. 
(J Scale.) 



tltproduotd by Andri S, SItIgh, Ltd., 
Buthty, Herts. 



A* THE BLACK-HEADED BUNTING. 



Emherlza sckaniciil/t.i. 




HIS prett y lit tle bird, lij^e 
many other common mem- 
bei's of the feathered tribes, 
rejojees in a variety of 
names, such as " Reed 
Bunting-," " Water Spar- 
row,'' " Chink," '' Black 
Bonnet," " Passerine Bunt- 
ing, ^^ and " Reed Sparrow," 
and it is probably far better 
known under mgst or the 
latter of these names than 
by the one assigned to it by 
the ornithologist. 

The Black-headed^, Bunt- 
ing is co mrno n in most of 
the European countries, al- 
though in the northern por- 
tions of the Continent it is 
a summer resident only. In 
the British Isles the same 
migratory habit is observ- 
able, and the birds move 
" down South " about 



22 FAMILIAR WILL BIRDS. 

October, retracing- their journey generally about the 
following March or April. Daring the winter months 
they may always be met with in larger assemblages than 
during the milder seasons of the year. 

The favourite haunts of the Black-headed Bunting are 
the rushy sides of slowly running streams, the reed beds 
in ditches and ponds, and indeed any place where water 
fringed with tall thickly-growing reeds, grass, or rushes 
can be found. 

Its habits are active and sprightly ; it seldom remains 
long in one position, but Hits from stalk to stalk, clinging 
to reeds or rushes, which frequently bend beneath its weight 
almost to the surface of the water. When disturbed the birds 
sometimes Hy to some distant bend of the stream, but more 
commonly settle down again quickly amongst the rushes. 
Some little circumspection is necessary to watch them 
closely, as they are inclined to be cautious and shy, and do 
not willingly permit a very close inspection. 

The flight is strong and somewhat undulating, the bird 
flapping its wings several times in rapid succession ; it 
alights abruptly, and plainly disi")lays at such times the 
white markings of the tail, which is expanded and closed 
in a v^ery noticeable manner. Small aquatic insects, flies, 
and the seeds of the various grasses and ])lants found in 
their haunts, constitute the principal articles of their diet. 

The sQjig of the Black-Beaded Bunting is not very 
strijijng, lacing nothingjmoro than a coupl^e of sharp notes, 
repeated every now and^again, and usually when the bird is 
swaying up and do\vn upon some reed or osier twig. 
!Meyer describes the "son^g" as consisting of the syllable 
" sherrip " pronounce d qu ickly, a mere chirp of two notes, 
the first repeated three or four times, the last single and 



THE BLACK-HEADED BUNTI.NG. 23 

more sharp. It also utters a sharp twitter if compelled 
suddenly to take to flight. 

In building- the nest^ dry grasses^ parts o£ fine rushes, 
and dried bents of hay are used, the interior being comfort- 
ably and neatly lined with reed-down, thin stalks, mc^s, or 
h^iir. The nest is generally placed on or near the ground, 
and usually close to the water's edge, amongst coarse 
grass or sedges, and occasionally in the lowest parts of 
some convenient bush. 

Fou r or five eg gs are laid, about the early part of Mav , 
they vary in the colour of the ground tints, being some- 
times a pale purplish brown, and at other times purply 
white, greenish, and brownish ; they are prettily streaked 
and sjwtted with darker shades of the same colour. 

The Black-headed Bunting, like many larger and more 
pretentious birds, is credited with a strong anxiety for the 
safety of its young, and has been known to ado2:)t various 
stratagems and ruses to divert the attention of the too 
curious and intrusive visitor. 

The leiigth of this bird is about six inches, perhaps a 
little3.ore ; the bill is dusky brown, and from the base a 
white streak passes backwards to the white C(jllar which 
surrounds the neck. The sides and top of the head are a 
rich velvety black, bounded by a white collar which comes 
down to the breast. In the fall of the year, and until the 
following spring, these white feathers become shaded with 
grey, and the black ones have brownish tips. Chin and 
throat black, ending in a downward point. Breast, a dull 
bluish-white, darker towards the sides, and streaked with 
brown. Back, a blackish colour, the feathers being bor- 
dered with reddish-brown, and mingled with grey. After 
the autumn moult all these markings become more or less 



24 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



confused. The wings are blackish, with the feathers edged 
with brown, the longer ones being much darker. The tail, 
which is a little forked, is rather long and brownish-black, 
the outside feathers being white. Under tail-coverts are 
white. Legs, toes, and claws are a dusky brown. The 
female is smaller than the male, and differs very much 
from it in appearance. The head is brownish instead of 
black, the white collar is replaced with plumage of a dusky- 
brown, and the throat and breast is a dull white. 

The young birds resemble the female, but the markings 
are duller, and the sides of the head are greyish-brown. 
The black parts of the head do not make their appearance 
in the young male birds until after the autumn moult, 
and the white collar increases in distinctness as the birds 
approach maturity. 

It is a handsome addition to the av iary, and may be 
kept without much di flic ult}^^ 




C-, 





^ / ic-/-yc u . 




4l 




1 



I 



COMMON SNIPE. 
(2 Scale.) 



Rtproduotd bi Aniri A Slitgh, ltd.) \ 





THE COMMON SNIPE, 

Scolopax (jaUiiiago. 



HIS vvellj^nown biixl, so dear to the 
sport^maiij and so highly appreciated 
by the epicure and the invalid^ be- 
longs to the Grallatorial, or Wadiiig- 
birdsj and is found pretty generally 
throughout Great Britain. 

It has a preference for maj^hy and 
fenny districts^ and breeds in the 
northern and southern counties of 
England, Ireland, Scotland and its 
islands. So large a number of 
Snipes are, however, seen in this 
country every winter, that it is quite 
clear they cannot be bred here, and 
probably visit us fr(jm Scandinavia, 
to remain with us during the winter 
months. 

The Sny2e is fond of wet meadows, 
brooks, ditelies, and boggy or marshy 
places, where it finds profitable occu- 
pation in piemng the soft soil with 
its long and sensitive bill in pursuit 
of foocl. During very cold weather 
the Snipe is gregarious, but does not 
long remain in one spot; it frequently 
shifts its feeding-places, so that a 



26 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

sportsman who may have excellent sport one day, may, 
on the (lay following, find the locality entirely deserted. 

When nndistui'bed the Snipe moves slowly and easily, 
carrying- the head erect, and occasionally moving the tail. 
When alarmed, the bird invariably squats until the daiiger 
has passed, or takes jvhig at once, never running, as_i_s 
the habit <»£ the other members <»f the sand piper tribe. 
AVhen wounded, it has a curious habit ot" jumjiing^or 
Hutt^'iug u^ from the ground. When it takes flight its 
movements, for the first thirty or forty yards, are tortuous 
and rapid in the extreme, and then it commonly soars to 
a very considerable height, or flies straight off to some 
distant feeding- place. Another peculiarity connected with 
this bird is the strange humming noise it produces with 
its wings, and this is more noticeable when it is endeavour- 
ing to divert attention from its nest, or when choosing 
a mate. 

This noise is generally attributed to a peculiar move- 
ment of the wings, and has been likened to the bleating 
of a goat ; indeed, in some parts of France the Snipe is 
kno^yn as " Chevre volant.^' 

As the spring advances the Snipe gradually perfects 
his summer plumnge, and towards the cud of March, or 
the beginning of April, selects a spot for a nest, and 
endeavours, by repeated calls, to obtain a mate. These 
calls, or pipings, are always uttered during Hight, and are 
accompanied by the humming noises already referred to. 
At the time of nesting, and until after the young are 
hatched, the male bird continually soars to a great height, 
and utters its piping cries even when it has passed beyond 
human observation. 

The nest is usually placed in long;_^rass by the sjdes 



THE SNIPE, 27 

of small locks, ponds, or amongst_lieather ; sometimes 
under the stump of an old alder „oii.w_iljow. In Nor\vay and 
Sweden the bir(l breeds commonly in the morasses of the 
mountainous districts, and in the mossy bogs of the more 
cultivated parts. The nest, which is made with little or 
no trouble, is composed of leaves and stalks, and is placed 
on, the ground. The eggs are generajly fqur_in number, 
rather large in proportion to the size of the bird, and 
sharply pointed at the smaller end. They_are of an olive- 
white colour, spotted at the larger end with rusty brown. 

The young Snipes make their appearance about the 
beginning or middle of July, and both parents are much 
attached to their brood. The young grow rapidly, and 
soon learn to ru^n freely. 

Snipe s fe ed principally upo^ worms, aqua tic ins ects, 
and the minute _seeds of various water-plants. Like that 
of all the Scolopacinse, the bill is extremely sensitive ; it 
is perforated, and capable of some degree of expansion. 
Owing, however, to the delicate structure and organisation 
of the bill, the Snipe, in severe weather, suffers great 
hardships and privations, and rapidly becomes emaciated 
and poor. 

The plumage of the Snipe is rich and beautifully 
marked. The beak is dark brown at the end, and pale 
reddish-brown at the base. Irides, dark brown. A dark 
brown streak runs from the beak to the eye, and over this 
streak is another streak of pale brown, which goes over the 
eye and ear-coverts. The upper part of the head is dark 
brown, with a pale streak in the centre. The back is 
dark brown, slightly spotted with pale brown, and there 
are four plainly-marked lines along the upper part of the 
body of dark brown feathers, margined with rich buff. 



28 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

The wing-coverts are spotted with pale brown, on a ground 
of dull bhu'k, and tipped with white; the primaries are 
dull black, the secondaries being dull black, tipped with 
white. I'pi)er tail-coverts barred with pale brown and 
dusky black ; the tail-feathers are dull black with reddish- 
brown margins, the end of the feathers having an oval 
chestnut patch. The vent, belly, and breast are white, 
sides and tlanks greyish-white, barred with dusky black ; 
chin, brownish-white ; under tail-coverts pale yellowish- 
brown, with greyish-black bars ; legs and toes, greenish- 
brown. 

The length of the snipe is about ten and a-half inches, 
beak two and three-quarter_ inches ; but the birds \arj 
considerably in size and weight. The female resembles 
the male in plumage, but is a trifle Jai:o'erl X 





•c^ /- / 



\„/ 



1 



ir 



/ 




GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER^ 
li Scale.) 



Htprolucid 6/ AnJre <& Sliigh, ltd., 
Bu$itty, Hert$. 



THE GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER., 



Pirns major. 




* 

HIS interesthii^ bird, although 
not_sp frequently met with 
as the Green Woodpecker, 
can hardly be called scarce, 
as it is comparatively com- 
mon in some parts of Eno-- 
land, especially in the mid- 
land and southern counties. 
It is variously known by the 
local najjies of '^' Witwall,^^ 
'' Woodnacker,'' '' Woodjiie," 
" Freneh^pie,'' and "^ Great 
Black and White •• Wood- 
pecker/^ 

This bird may be con- 
sidered as one of the best 
repres entativ es of the Scan- 
sores or climbers, and is dis- 
tinguished by the bill being- 
equal in deptli and breadth. 
The toes_ are placed two in 
front and two Jiehind, the 
nostrils are covered with 
bristles, and the tail is stiff and 






30 lU.VlLlAU WILD BinilS. 

rounded. The last-named appendage is continually used 
in supporting the bird when elimbing and in assisting it to 
maintain its upright position. Like other members of this 
interesting family, the tongue is long, and is so arranged 
that it can be protruded to a considerable extent ; its sides 
and tip are furnished with barbed iilaments of a liorny 
nature, which serve the pur])ose of impaling tiie insects 
upon which the creature feeds, and this process is further 
perfected by the copious secretion of a glutinous saliva. 
Indeed, the entire structure of the bird furnishes one of the 
most admirable examples of complete adaptability that can 
possibly come under the notice of the student of natural 
history. Moving rapidly about on the trunks and larger 
branches in search of food, the tapping noise so frequently 
alluded to by poets and describers of woodland beauties is 
produced by the bird when striking the bark of a tree, either 
to dislodge the bark, or induce any concealed insects to 
make themselves visible to their persevering devourer. It is 
partial to woods, parks, forests, and clumps of trees, where 
it may occasionally be seen. 

The bird is shy in its disposition, and seems to h ave a 
strong antipathy to being watched, disappearing behmd a 
trunk o r boug h directly it finds itself in the presence of 
spectators. On a still afternoon the sharp jarring sounds 
of the Woodpecker at work may be heard for a very 
considerable distance, but it is by no means easy to ascer- 
tain the precise locality whence they emanate. The note 
of this bird resembles the syllable " gich,'^ and this is 
uttered oidy once at a time, and at long intervening in- 
tervals. 

As may be easil y ima gined, the Great Spotted Woo^jjecker 
confines itself almost entirely to an insect deit, eating, with 



THE GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER. 31 

considerable impartiality, spiders, motiiSj fliesj beetles, grubs, 
catei^X^illars, and indeed anything- and everything of a 
similar description. According to some naturalists, however, 
the bird is by no means averse to fruit. 

The Great Spotted Woodpecker usually, if not in- 
variably, inhabits holes in trees, and the eggs_are deposited 
upon the decayed and dusty floor of the hole, with ijo^ 
further efforts in the direction of nest-making. Generally 
a hole is selected extending some couple of feet into the 
tree. The eggs average four or five, in number, and are 
abojat an inch in length ; they are white, and have a very 
smooth, glossy appearance. The parents are much attached 
to their nest and its contents, the female especially showing 
strong signs of anxiety and affection. The young birds 
are generally able to take care of themslves about the 
middle of July. 

The flight is short and undulating; the bird is very 
seldom seen on the ground, and when there its move- 
ments are slow, and it generally progresses in a series 
of hops. 

The beak of the adult is about the same length as the 
head, of a dark shiny horn colour, with greyish bristly 
feathers covering the nostrils; forehead, ear coverts, and a 
circle round the eye, a dull, dirty white ; top of head, dark 
bkiish black ; back of head, bright scarlet ; nape of neck, 
black — this colour passing forward in a strij^e to the beak, 
and backward towards the wings; back, rump and tail 
coverts, black. The wings are black variegated with white 
marks, and . there is a large, well-defined patch of white on 
the scapulars. The tail is partly black, some of the feathers 
being tipped and marked with white. The throat, neck, 
breast, and belly dirty white ; vent and under tail-coverts. 



32 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



red. Tl.e length of the bird is about nine and a half iiiehes. 
The female has no red plumage on the head, and the young- 
l)irds, although iu most respects similar to the old birds, 
have the top of the head red, and the back part black. 

Tlie Great Shotted Woodpecker is found in Denmark, 
Norway, Sweden, and Kussia, and thence downwards to 
Italv. In our own country it seldom travels far above the 
midland counties, although iustaiices are recorded of its 
being met with in ScotUind. It is considered probable 
that in some cases the bird is migratoryj^ 




JJL£i!^^(^ 






I 




COMMON WREN. 

(t Scale.) 



)( THE COMMON AVREN, 

Si/Ivia Iroglodijtcs — Pennant, Ti'inminck. 
Troylodi/tes cuyopwiis — Sclby, Gould. 



T was some time before natural- 
ists could assign to this popular 
favourite a proper position in 
ornitholog-ical classitieatiou, and 
the Wreii was orij^-inally placed 
amoiig" the warblers ; but for 
various reasons this bird is now 
placed with the Troglodytes, as 
hayhig more in common with 
thatj-'lass than with tlie Sylvidse. 
Equally with tlie Robin and 
Swallow, this bird has enjoyed 
an amount of protection almost 
amounting- to superstition^ and 
it is not to be wondered at that 
a cheery little bird like the 
Wren, whose whole food consists 
of insects, and who stays with 
us throughout the winter, cheer- 
ing us with its merry_little song, 
shoidd hold a prominent position 
in the good\vill of all men. 
Some little time back, howeverj 
we are sorry to say the Wren in certain localities suffered 
considerably from the irrepressible schoolboy. Noticing 
E 




34 FAMILIAR If I LI) BIRDS. 

that Wrens naturally kept to the shelter of the hedgerows, 
and seldom ventured upon any leng-thened Hight, these 
boys, armed with stieks and stones, would beat on either 
side oi" the hedge until i)oor Jenny was killed. AVe hope, 
however, this pructiee is det'unet. It may have arisen from 
the old eustum of " Hunting- the Wren on Christmas 
Ddy/^ onee general in many parts of Ireland and Wales, if 
nof also of England, when one party would carry sticks to 
beat the bushes, and another stones to kill the poor birds 
as they emerged. The origin of this curious custom is 
lo^t in obscui'ity. It has been ascribed to the anger felt 
by the Cat holic Iri sh at a W^ren saving from surprise and 
masst>cre. by ta[)pin g on a drum, a small party of worn-out 
Protestants. But it is singular that this same legend in 
Southeni Ireland occasioned a ceremony in which a Wren 
was carried about in honour, to the accompaniinent of the 
following _ditty : — 

Tlic wren, tlio wren, the king of all birds;, 
Was lauiflit St. Stephen's day in the fur/e; 
Although he's little, his family's great, 
Then, l)ray, kind gentlefolks, give him a treat. 

Jennv or Kitty Wren, as it is also called, is one of j)ur 
smalh^st birds, and yet there is sc arce ly one Itcttcr knowji. 
This may be on account <jf the nursery tale of the court- 
ship and marriage of Cock Robin and Jenny Wren ; and 
doubtless that same story may account for the idea which 
is still ])revalent, that the Wren is the female of the llobin. 
In early spring attentive observers of Nature may see a 
))air of Wrens engaged most busjl\- in the work of nest- 
building. This stiudure, which is dome-shaped, with an 
ajjcrture at the side, is compo^^d of most varied materials, 
principally twigs, roots, Icavt's, moss, and featbers, and is 



THE IVREX. 25 

j^laced in equally var ied pos itions. We have found them 
against the trunk of a tree, undei- the tha tch of a bu ilding, 
in the forks of a eabbao^e run JtQ_ .g.eed, and even over- 
hanging the variab le waters of a st ream ; another favourite 
position is the aperture occasioned by the loss of a_brick 
from an arch und^r a couutry_j'oadway, where the grass 
and weeds grow around, and partiajjy conceal the position 
of the nest. The position and its surroundings greatly in- 
fluence the materials of which the nest is composed, as the 
birds labour that it may as nearly as possible resemble 
the appearance of its site. The Wren, although such a 
small bird, builds her nest of heavy material, so that it is 
matter for surprise how she contrives to transfer it to its 
place. Notwithstanding-, she is extremely capricious, 
and will often make two or three nests before one is settled 
to her satisfaction ; when, however, this is consummated, 
from si x to e ight . white , eg^s, specdvled with a few red 
spots, and about the size_of a bean or large cher ry-ston e, are 
laid in the feather-lined nest, and the hen sits upon them 
for about teii_days, being partially fed by the male bird 
meanwhile. The young are fed by the parent birds upon 
insects, flies, larvae, and small worms, iintil they leave the 
nest and become self-supporting. The parent birds then 
commence a new nest, producing two broods a year. 

The Wren may be found all over England and in 
Scotland and Ireland, whilst, as one of its classified names 
denotes, it is also a general inhabitant of Europe. The 
plumage is composed of different shades of brown, barred 
with darkei" brown, and some naturalists aver that the 
female is of a redder hue than the male ; but the difference 
is very difficult to determine. 

Too much praise can scarcely be awarded to the song 



36 FAMUJAn Tl'TLT) TttnDS. 

of the Wren. Considerino- the size of the bird, it is 
possessed of great power and sweetness, and is repeated 
again and again, even under most adverse circumstances. 
Like the Robin, this song is continued throughout winter, 
and even when snow is upon the ground the Wren's 
triumphant warble may be heard proceeding from the 
shelter of a neighbouring bush or hedgerow. As regards 
food, the Wren seems to be especially gifted with the 
powei' of self-preservation. It will ])luck the sjiiders and 
larva? from their hiding-places, catch flics nnl otlier insects 
that are found around puddles, especially in farm-yards, 
and altogether adapt itself to any circumstances. 

During the winter these little^birds roost in holes in 
houses, trees, and walls, thatch, hay^ricks, or any shcl^red 
posi_tions; for the sak e of w armth they hu ddle to gether, 
and so resist the rigours of our cHmate.y )^ 




■^>-'*'.^^ 



/ ^-O 




^ 




ROBIN. 
(1 Scale.) 



^ THE ROBIN. 

Sylvia rubecula. 
Erythaea rubecula. 




OST popular of all our song birds, 
next familiar to the Sparrow, and 
rivalling' the latter in its confi- 
dence, the Robin holds a position 
in the minds of all the English 
race nearly amounting to super- 
stition. And this for various 
reasons, inasmuch as the Robin 
is not only almost without re- 
proach as a garden marauder, but 
is also an efficient member of 
that self-constituted bird police 
which keeps down the number of 
garden pests, and without whose 
aid the horticulturist would almost 
entirely fail. Then, again, the 
Robin has a most exquisite song! 
composed of strains of great ten- 
derness and beauty, as well as 
sweetly-modulated execution. As 
this song, although somewhat 
lost in the general chorus of 
the summer songsters, is con- 
tinued more or less throughout 
the year, and especially during 



38 FAMILIAR WILT) BIRDS. 

winter, when tlio voices of almost all other ])ir(ls are 
Iiushetlj tlie distinctive warble of tlie Robin comes most 
gratefully to the ear, i)artieularly ^;o to the dwellers in 
towns. AVhen winter has set its icy seal npon the woods 
and meadows, " Bob " (as tiie Robin is sometimes 
familiarly called), despairinc^ of food in the sylvan haunts 
of summer, repairs to the habitations of man, well knowing' 
that the reward of its beautiful sono' will be forthcomino;' 
in the shape of crumbs, thrown out l)y the lovers of 
Nature's less shifted but beautiful creatures. 

The plumage of the Robin is composed generally, 
upon the head, back and tail, of olive-brown, but upon the 
cheeks, throat, and breast it is a rich orange-red (from 
which its name of Redbreast is derived) ; this is bordered 
with bhiish grey, terminating in white upon the under 
])arts. The female so slightly diiTi'rs that it is almost 
impossible to distinguish the sex, although it may be 
that she is less brightly coloured, and possesses eyes less 
full and l)old. The y(Ming Kobin, however, is clothed 
in entirely different plumage, the entire upper part being 
yellowish olive-brown, mottled with orange and buff, 
and tipped at the extremity of each feather with pale 
olive-brcwn ; the chin, throat, and breast are dull reddish- 
brown, but this colour is materially altered liy the feathers 
being margined with darker brown. 

Perhj^is n^ other bird has builtits n^st in so many 
erratic pos ition s as the Robin ; reason seems to have no 
inlluence over it s ch oice. With a-supedluity of admirable 
sites close at hand, the most ridiculous_positions are often 
chosen ; and were it not for the immunity from persecution 
enjijved by the Robi^n, indeed we may say the protection 
aft'onled, tliis reekless choice of a nesting-place would 



THE MOB IX., 39 

often be the occasion of sad disaster. As it is, " pussy ''■' 
is the Robing worst enemy; for even the most 
reckless schoolboy, or other bird-nester, has a feeling' of 
almost religious reverence for the nest of " poor cock 
Robin." 

Sometimes their choice falls upon a Hower-pot or old 
kettle, at others upon a hole in a wall ; but Robins 
generally build in a hole in a bank a nest composed of 
leaves, dry roots, grass, and moss, with a lining of hair, 
together with a few feathers, and therein the female lays 
from fiv e to seven eggs of a delicate pale reddish-white 
freckled with darker red^ spots, which are sometimes 
gathered more thickly at the largej;_end, and will even 
form a ring, though ^specimens have bee n fou nd of a p_ui"e 
wliite. The young are principally fed upon small worms 
and caterpillars, but the food of the parents also embraces 
other insects, such as spiders and their larvae, togetlier with 
fruit and berries. The young leave the nest in about 
a fortnight, and in about a similar period will provide for 
themselves; when the parent birds commence building 
a new nest, having two or three in the course of the 
season. 

In the winter the Robin establishes himself in an 
inhabited district— generally in a garden adjoining a 
house — and will defend his supposed domain with great 
pugnacity, especially against one of his own tribe. They 
are particularly bitter against one another, and will some- 
times kill the intruding foe or die themselves in defence of 
their haunt. Tliese conflicts are almost invariably 
commenced by a vocal contest, intcnsitied as the rivals 
approach, and it is then that the Robin's call, " tsit., 
tsi.t,'' is heard most plainly ; they have also a peeuliai' 



40 



FAMILIAR hlLl) BIIWS. 



wail, iitk'i;e(l generally lowarils ruustiii«^-tinie, and oi' a \eyy 
melancholy nature. 

Formerly it was th>.tui>'ht to be particularly unlucky to 
keep a ca<^ed liobiuj and the accidental advent of one 
throug-h the open window was, in certain parts of the 
cuuntry, held to be a sign of a coming' "■ death in the 
family/^ These superstitions^ with many another, cire 
so very deep-rooted as to obtain to a great extent at the 
present day. 

The RoImu is exceedingly inc[uisitive, and will ijii'allibly 
inspect every fresh-turned Howerjped, ])ossU)ly in search 
of food, though anything fresh or extraordinary has a very 
great charm for this favourite birdJ^ 








THRUSH. 
(i Scale.) 



X 



THE THRUSH. 



Turdiis inusicus. 




^-^^r 



ELL distinguished as the '^Song 
Thrush/^ this bird, as such a 
namedenotes, is possessed of one 
of the niost melo dious vo ices to 
be found in the list of British 
song birds. 

Thoroughly familiar it is, 
and exceedingly popular as a 
cage-bird ; but beautifully as 
the Thrush will sing in confine- 
ment, it is vvhen, in early morn, 
or as evening twilight advances, 
the Thrush has taken up a 
favourite position upon the 
withered bough of a tree, that 
his song is heard to the greatest 
perfection. Clear, yet full of 
mellowness — now pealing out 
a phrase of wild bluff heiirtiness, 
and anon with long-drawn note 
tinged with exquisite pathos — 
the song of the Thrush strikes 
>a responsive chord in the heart 
of every hearer. Indeed, under 
the name of the Mavis, and 



P 



42 FAMILIAR WILD ISlliDS. 

Throstle, the bird has had a prominent j)ositi(tn in the 
world of poesy from the earliest times. Its beautiful sonu* 
commences early in January, and is heard throughout the 
whole year, with the exception of moulting time. 

The Thrush is a tine, handsome bird, with pretty, though 
somewhat colourless, plumage. The whole upper part is 
olive brown, somewhat deeper coloured upon the head and 
neck. The throat is a yellowish-white, partially speckled 
with dark brown spots ; the breast is pale buff, tinged 
more darkly on either side, and from the throat down to 
the thighs tlecked with very dark brown triangular spots. 
The sexes may with dithculty be distinguished, except that 
the male is possibly smaller, whilst the female has larger 
s})()ts upon the breast, and not so much buff. As, however, 
the female is mute, the song sup})lies an unerring guide. 

Though of some size — i.e., 8^ inches in length — this 
bird does not^ walk, but when upon the ground proceeds 
with a series of lea^s or bops ; thc^ ^ight, however, i< 
rapid, and capable of being sustained for a considerable 
distance ; yet the Thrush is only a partially migratory 
bird, most individuals remaining w'ith us throughout the 
winter. At that season, however, a considerable migration 
appears to arrive from the north, ])ossibly driven south by 
snow or hard weather. 

It is seldom that more than a jniir of Thrushes are seen 
together, except at the period of their forced migration in 
winter ; and even then their numbers never attain to the 
extent of the flocks of Fieldfares. 

The general_abode of thesejbirds is in the neigliljour- 
hood of gardens, plantations, hedgerows, and thickets; yet_ 
there is little limit to their choice, sometimes living in well- 
wateredjk^iUeys, and again among furze^and thickets upon 



I 



THE THRrsiI. 43 

the hill-sicleSj where water must perforce be somewhat 
scarce. 

The nest_is generally placed in a hedger ow qr^ thicket, 
or in furze ; but the j^osition is varied, and greatly depends 
upon circumstances. Sometimes they are very shy in their 
choice of a nesting-place, and again will at times select a 
position which demands from them the most fearless confi- 
dence: some having j^laced their nest in a shrub or bush in 
a garden, or near a house, where it was possible for passers- 
by to observe their eggs or young. The nest is formed 
externally of small t\yigs, fine roots, green naoss, and 
leaves, with a linin g of m ud. The eg^s are genei'ally five 
or s^ in number, of a light greenish-blue colour, speckled 
with black spots, especially at the larger end, where they 
often form a well-defined ring. 

The young are fed with exemplary assiduity by the 
parents, chiefly upon insects, until, being able to provide 
for themselves, they are thrown upon their own resources 
by the old birds, who start building another nest. 

The usual food of the Thrush is such as to make it 
especially valuable to the gardener and husbajidman ; for 
although iu summer it may f eed u pon different kinds of 
friut, yet its diet chiefly consists of insects, caterpillars, 
. worms, and snails ; among the latter especially may be in- 
eluded those that so greatly infest wall-fruit trees (notably 
apricots and peaclies). The shell of this snail, however, is 
comparatively hard; and the Thrush, therefore, to obtain 
the dainty within, dashes the shell against a large 
stone iu a most adroit manner, until the shell is crushed. 
Hence, it may be freely admitted that the few fruits 
purloined in summer have been well earned. In wint er 
the Thr ush f eeds princrL)al]y upon snails and berries. 



44 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



The " call ^' of the bird is a short, harsh cackle; but 
unless disturbed, it is generally silent. The " sonj^ " of 
the male has already been described, and is amon^gst the 
most conspicuous of all the melodious notes which fiH the 
air, even in the neighbourhood- of large cities. 

Thrushes will brewed in a large aviary. If confined in a 
cage (which should be large and have wooden bars), the 
Thrush will often become tame enough to feed froni the 
hand ; it will, however, recjuire constant cleaning, as i^ 
is very^apt to scatter its food. ' A little fruit in summer 
will be a treat, as also an occasioiud_suailj)(' 







r 





JACKDAW. 
(J bcale.) 



X 



THE JACKDAW, 



Corvhs moiierJiila. 




HIS _bird is even more com- 
monly known than the Ro.ok, 
as it is generally in the neigh- 
bourhood of the. dwellings of 
man that it takes up its abode. 
Like that bird it is also gre- 
garious^ and some colonies at- 
tain to considerable numbers. 



The 



length of the Jackdaw 



is about fifteen inches^ the fe- 
male being possiljly the larger ; 
but otherwise it is very diffi- 
cult to distinguish their sexes. 
When seen in flight the appear- 
ance of the Jackdaw seems one 
uniform black, but upon closer 
inspection it will be found to 
have an • especially black cap 
upon the head, and from the 
ear coverts round to the back of 
the head a broad patch of grey. 
The beakj tongue, legs, and 
feet are black, but the eye is 
clear bluish-white. 

These birds are to be found 
generally throughout. Europe, and are common to almost 






ifi FAMILIAR in ID BIRDS. 

all parts of Great Britain. Tn this country they affect, 
as their nestin<>'-p]aees, the holes and crannies of ruinsj 
towers, church-steeples, and other huildin^s, thoug-h often 
they may he found in chalk and other cliffs or deserted 
chalk-pits, and at other times will build in the hollows 
of trees or in chimney-stacks. 

The nest is another instance of the wonderful amount 
of troul)le birds will bestow upon its buildin*!^ ; not^ that 
the Jackdaw's is an elaborate structure, but rather a 
chaotic arrangement of twigs as a foundation (and these 
almost infinite in number), upon which is laid dried_gTasses 
and straw, with an inner lining of wool (sometimes 
feathers), or any other soft materials. 

The eggs are from fotir to six in numl)er, though 
generally five, of a bluisli-white, somc;times pale greenish- 
blue_colour, speckled, though more profusely at the larger 
end, with spots of dark browu and purplish -grey. These 
eggs are generally d^)osited in the nest by the middle of 
Ma}', and the young are hatched about the beginning of 
June. The young are fed by the parent birds until 
able to accompany them in their quest for food. 

Of the Jackdaw it may truly be said that lu- is the 
early bird that catches the worm, for about daybreak he 
may be seen quittiug his haunts in city or town, cliff or 
tree, and flying towards the neighbouring meadows, 
])astures, or ploughe<l fields, in search of food. This 
embraces so many objects that it is almost impossible to 
enumerate them. It principally feeds, however, upon 
worms, grubs, insects and their larvio, sometimes grain, 
and, if living near the sea, upon the shell-fish and smaller 
Crustacea cast up by the tide. 

It therefore is needless to remark that the Jackdaw 



TEE JACKDAW^ 47 

is of immense assistance to the husbandman^ and also to 
the market or otliev large gardener. This is especially 
when the young are hatched^ as at that time the parent 
birds, emboldened by the knowledge of the extra demands 
cast upon them^ will visit many a garden near the 
habitation of man in their search for food ; and this, too, 
in spite of the fact that they are generally as wary of 
danger as the Rook, and make provision in the way of 
outposts as mentioned of that bird. About this time 
Jackdaws may be seen perched upon the sheep^s backs, 
possibly robbing them of their wool, and also doing them 
a good turn by ridding them of parasites. 

The young do not have the grey upon the head 
until the first moult, and it may be presumed that it 
becomes light er with a ge ; it is an undoubted fagt 
that it bec^oines more silvery in spring and during 
suniiner. 

The voice of the Jackdaw seems to be comprised in 
the Avord " chqck,^'' and this may have originated the 
prefix Jack to the generic name Daw. Some have con- 
side^d the sound more like " craw," others " caw,^^ but 
to. our miiid it is uttered, Avhen seated upon a tower or 
chimney, as " chock," with a staccato ^ ending. When in 
tlight, however, this note is more often repeated and much 
more rapidly delivered ; • especially when a single bird 
has been delayed and is anxious to rejoin the rest of 
its comrades; at which time, too, the flight becomes 
somewhat of a slovenly scramble ; though the ordinary 
flight is much quicker than that of the Rook, and the two 
birds may generally be so distinguished. 

There are few birds that have more frequently been 
ma de pet s than the Jackdaw. Possibly, from having been 



48 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



accustomed to the sig-ht, of man, much of the fear in- 
separably eonueeted with his presence seems to be 
eliminated from the mind of the Jackdaw, and if broug-ht 
up from the nest (and they are vtM-y hardy), they will 
becojne exeeetling-ly attached to their_ keej)ers. In con- 
finement their favourite food is ineat, but they are easily 
l)leased, and in return are most amusing-. The droll ex- 
pression of the half-turned head and the watchful white 
ey_S is a marked characteristic ; added to this, " Jack " is 
something of a mimic, and will even learn to talk. He 
has, ho\yever, the faiUng belonging- to the rest o f the tr ibe, 
and is much addicted to hiding uneatable objects, as 
our readers may remember is humorously pourtrayed in the 
Ingoldsby Legend of " The Jackdaw of Rhei n^^^X ' 





%u W4^^^, 




SISKIN, (PAIR) 
(I Scale.) 



X THE S i S K i N , 



Fiiiiyilla gjjiiius. — Linn^us. 
Dei- Zeiziff. — Bech«tei*n. 




T has often been matter for sur- 
prise that this sweetly docile, 
pretty, and amusing little bird 
is not better known, though 
certainly its merits are fast at- 
tracting attention; and before 
long, if the supply of Gold- 
finches becomes exhausted, the 
Siskin may j)ossibly sujDply its 
place as a cage-bird. Better 
knojyn in Lo'ndon, and in some 
other parts of England, as the 
Aberdevine, it may be that 
the double name has mystified 
amateur ornithologists ; but 
from the numbers lately im- 
ported from Germany, it is 
seldom that a well-constituted 
aviary is destitute of one of 
these sprightly little birds. 

Since no mention of the 
bird appears in the Rev. Gilbert 
White's " History of Selborne^'" 
— and he was a most observant 
and true naturalist — it would 



60 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

appear almost as if these little winter visitants were 
unknown around that district. 

The plumage of the Sisjdn, together with its _other 
natural advantages, gives it a very high position in the 
list of Finches. Its beauty is indeed beyond gainsaying, 
a brilliant lemon-yellow pervading its plumage throughout ; 
and this colour is thrown into especial contrast by the 
deepness of the black of the head and rest of the plumage. 
The female is of a duller colour, and has no black on its 
head. 

Several instances have been recorded of Siskins breed- 
ing in contiuement ; and it may be that the patience and 
l>ersevcrance of breeders may in the dim future make the 
Siskin a rival progenitor to the original Green Canary. 
The Siskin even at the present day mat€s freely with the 
Canary ; and the mules produced are handsome birds, and 
especially sweet songsters. 

This interesting little bird is probably a nature of 
Norway and Sweden, although found breeding in certain 
districts of Germany. "What more concerns our present 
readers is the fact that the Siskin has been found breeding 
near London, although it is extremely possible that these 
instances — as remarked of the Redpoll — were merely 
escaped birds. Yet it has beeujiroved from the time of 
Yarrell that many nests existed in the pine-trees of Scot- 
land ; and an enthusiastic ornithologist of the present day, 
Mr. Booth, of the Dyke lload Museum, Brigliton, was 
fortmiate enough to find an unmistakoaljly wildjicst whilst 
he was sojourning in Sc()tland. 

The nest is thus described by Morris. "It is placed 
in tregs, at only a sliort or moderate height from the 
grojjijd, and is composed of stalks of grtiss and small j'oot 



THE SISKIX.^ 51 

and fibj;es, moss and liehcnsj lined with haii-, rabbits' fur, 
thistle-^wn, wool, or a few feathers.'" Bechstein, how- 
ever, thus : — " It prefers building in forests of pine or fir, 
and phices its nest on the highest boug-h of one of those 
trees, or sometimes on the branch of the alder. It is 
fastened to the bough with spiders' wel), coral moss, and 
threads from the cocoons of various insects, and is cleverly 
constructed of these materials, woven together with small 
twigs, "and lined with very fine roots." 

The eggs are of a greyish- white, spotted thickly, par- 
ticularly at the largerend, with purplish-brown, and are 
gencTally five or six in number. 

The migratory appearance of the Siskin in this country 
is somewhat erratic, and is in keeping with the mystery 
that enshrouds some other of the proceedings of its life. 
In some years a considerable migration arrives in England 
from the north, which would almost point to the fact that 
these little birds must have crossed the German Ocean ; or 
it may be — for their numbers so considerably vary — that 
these are merely the birds bred in Scotland. In other 
years — and this appears to be the real migration — the move- 
ment proceeds from Norway and Sweden via Germany, 
picking up the stragglers in that country, and so to the 
south of England. 

Beclistein observes that the male_generally loses the 
blaclv of the throat in the moult of the second year ; but 
this is not a uniform_ rule, as we h ave k nown many varying 
specimens. The birds, however, invariably increase in 
brilliancy and beauty of plumage with age. 

The food of the Siskin whilst in Norway and Sweden 
seems to be the seeds of the firs3nd.^es. In the aut_amn, 
Bechstein says they exist upon the seeds of t he th istle and 



■,2 F.IMILfJR WILD BIRDS. 

burdock. In England, in October, they feed upon button- 
weed, and in winter and early spring subsist upon alder 
seeds, the small buds ot' vMiious trees, and the seeds of fn- 
cones- 

The song- of the Siskin genci-ally (M»inmences with a 
]ihr,is(' soniowhat coniniDn with the Linnet, finishing with 
one which may be rejiresented by "gurgle geeter jaaa/' 
The usual note, however, is a pretty, tiuieful, but jerky 
twitter, often marred by the harsh note " jaaa/^ The 
ordinary call, which is often repeated, is somewhat after 
the manner of the Hedpoll, and may be described as a little 
more metallic " keet/^ AVheu given in warning, before 
taldiig to flight, it is " chuck u chuck keetV^^ 







■^Mm 



I 



7^&0 / 



\ 









WRYNECK.. 
(i Scale.) 



X THE WRYNECK. 

Ymix iorqxUltf. 




\ W 



LTHOUGH foiind in many j)arts 
of Eng-land, this bird is not 
o-enerally known, and many 
who have heai'd its note have 
been at a loss to distinguish 
the utterer; and thjs for the 
<JS'reat reason that the Wryneck 
is with difficulty distinguished, 
on accoimt of the colour of its 
plumage, and, again, because 
its general haunts are wooded 
districts. It is in parks, 
avenvies of trees, or other well- 
protected positions where trees 
are plentiful, that the Wryneck 
will be most usually found, but 
this particularly in the east and 
south of Engjand. It is also, 
though rarely, forind in Scot- 
land, but seldom in Ireland. 

The name " Wryneck " is de- 
rived from the extremely erratic 
movement oC the neck of this bird when 
in a state of fright or ordinary pleasure. 
At such times the neck twists and 



54 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

wrii^-^os in very similar manner to a snake, and from, 
this pecuHai" movcmeiit the Wryneck is knoxvn in many 
districts as the '^snake^bird"; but tins name also applies 
to the plumag'e, since this bird is arrayed in feathers some- 
what resembling- the common snake in colour and g-eneral 
an-:iii<;'ement. 

It is a plain g-reyish-eoloured l»ird, })eneilled; barred, 
and mottled with brown in a most elegant manner, and 
darker upon the back and win^s. The chin and throat are 
yellowish-white, and the breast white, all barred trans- 
versely with l)lack. The female greatly resembles the 
male, though the })lumage is not generally so bright. 

The flight of the bird is very dull and heavy in com- 
parison to its size. Yet it is migratory, leaving this 
country in September, and returning about the beginning 
of April, just before the cuckoo ; and from this circum- 
stance is derived its local name of " cuckoo's mate.'' It is 
also known as_the " tong ue bir d,'' from the fact of its 
tono[ue being particularly long, and of a silvery appearance. 
This is the more noticeable when the bird is in pursuit of 
its f^iod, as the organ is darted out in a most rapid manner, 
and withdrawn just as suddenly, seldom having- missed 
securing the obj(>et aimed at. 

The general_haiuit of the \\ ryn^-k is upon a sunny 
bank or the dea dl)raneli of a tree. Although it sometimes 
ascends the trunks of trees, it does not_use its tail as a 
support, the same as the Creej2er or the Woodj^ecker, but 
general lyj-ims along- the branches in se ar ch of the va riou s 
insects or larvae secreted in the bark, though the, jirineipal 
foQiL consists of aivts and their _eggs. Even though the 
beak is differently constituted from that of the Wood- 
pecker tribe, this bird a])pears to be the link between those 



THE WRYXECK. bb 

birds and the Cuckoo, having many of the attributes of 
both, as it is decidedly non-gregarious, being almost in- 
variably found singly, or at most in pairs. 

The nest is built in various places, inasmuch as it will 
sometinies be found in the deserted hole of a Woodj)ecker, 
whilst at others the bird will cho ose a J iole in. an old 
decayed tree, often be side a countryj"oad, though generally 
in a m£re woode d loc ality. This ne^t is composed of 
moss, wool, hair, and grass-stalks, laid upon a foundation 
of decayed wood. The eggs are eight or nine ,in number, 
but have vaijed from five to twelve, and are of a pui*e 
shining white. The same nesting-place is resorted to 
several years running, as the birds seem to become attached 
to their familiar haunts. The young are fed principally 
upon ants and their eggs, with a few caterpillars and 
such-like insects. 

In connection with the snake-like appearance under 
some circumstances, especially if wounded, it may be 
added that the Wryneck will even hiss as it writhes and 
twists its neck. Indeed, so peculiarly snake-like is its 
appearance at such a time, that many have been deterred 
from taking it into the hand, so much did the bird 
resemble that much-abhorred reptile. The young, too, 
have the peculiar power of the adults, and will hiss if 
disturbed in the nest. These various circumstances make 
up one of the most singular instances of what is called 
"protective mimicry'^ in the animal world. 

Although generally living in unfrequented positions, 
the AYryneek is not a shy bird, but if approached will 
show a certain amount of disregard for the observer, not 
flying away if disturl^ed, but contenting itself with simply 
running alon^ the branch. 



56 



FAMILIAR in LI) BIRDS. 



Its ca]]^ is said to be varied; tlie ^eiu'ral u ttera nce of 
the "Wryneck is one clearly-defined note delivered in suc- 
cession, and which may be well rejn'eseuted by the i)hrase 
" Pcol^ pcel^ peel/^ each note repeated some cio- ht or n ine 
times. As before motioned, it also hisse s ; and it has 
been remarked to have a peculiarly^f t note duriiii»- the 
nestinu[^^ason. 

The Wryneck is about the same size as a Lark, beinu- 
about seven and a-half inches in lenj^tli^^ 




I 



^ 




WHITETHROAT. 
(i Scale.) 



/ 



THE WHITETHROAT. 




Sylvia cinerea. 
MotacUla ,, 



^^HHE Whitethroat is decidedly the 

~ '~~ commonest of the Warbler tribe, 

and may be found more 

or less plentifully throughout 

Eng-land, especially towards 

the south. These beautiful 

and elegant birds frecjuent 

gardens, thickets, hedgerows, 

or the outskirts of woods ; and, 

unlike most of the Sylvia 

tribe, will even make a home 

upon the hill-sides, amidst the 

furze and brambles. 

From a habit of frequenting, 
and even building, amidst nettles, 
this bird is known in many dis- 
tricts as. the " Nettle:Creeper.'' 

The Whitethroat is about 

5A inches in length ; the head 

neck are grey ; the back, too, is grey, 

tinged deeply with brown. The 



is dark brown, the feathers being 
edged with rust-colour, the two outer feathers, however, 
are greyish-white, which is most distinctly perceptible 



68 FAMILIAR WILD BjtRDS. 

iu flight. Like the tail, the wings are dark brown, 
each feather being edged with a light rusty brown; the 
throat and belly are white ; the breast, sides, and vent are 
very pale grey, tinted in a beautiful manner with a 
delicate rosy Hesh-colour. 

The AVhiteUiroat is non-gregarious, for, although 
many j)airs may be building in a neighbourhood, they do 
not associate, as with some birds, but kee[) strictly to 
themselves; and, indeed, it is seldom that even__a pair 
are seen together, each seeming to have its separate walk 
in life. 

The male birds arrive in England several days before 
ihe females, as is the ease with others of the Sylvidir, 
and they are generally here by the second week in 
April. "When they have paired, they tix ui)on a nesting- 
place, which, however, is in most varied positions : 
sometimes in a hedgerow (even close to a road), iu the 
furze upon the sides of hills, or waste lands; at other 
times in a bush in a garden; but oftener perhaps iu 
brambles, or the bashes of the wild rose that grow among 
little thickets, which the hand of the modern practical 
farmer has left antouched. 

In the security of this priekly_ retreat the pah- of 
birds build a deepjiyst, thinly eonstructed of dry j^tjiss, 
lichens, and wool, lined with horsehair, and therein the 
feimde deposits from four to live eggs : their colmr is a 
dirty greenish- white, spotted and specdded with green and 
brown ish-gi-ey. 

During nesting-time especially, the male bird sings 
his song under varying cireumstanees, and cunse([uently 
in varying manner. lie seems at this time, however, to 
be somewhat pugnacious, as when singing he elevates 



THE WHITETHROAT., 59 

the feathers upon the top of the head^ and so forms a 
crest. The song has been variously described^ but to our 
mind it is decidedly pleasing-. It consists of a pretty 
phrase uttered in a joyous manner^ and accompanied with 
many odd jerks and g-estures. The usual mode of delivery 
is whilst the bird is fluttering at a height of about 
twenty feet, having risen from the spray of bramble 
upon which it was sitting. Thus, with butterfly-like 
motions and jerking neck, it utters its carol, and then 
suddenly drops with subsiding song into the bush it had 
quitted so shortly before. The call-notes of the bird are 
very varied. At times it sounds somewhat like "hived, 
hived ; " again, like " cha, cha ;" and at other times like 
" purr, purr " — each note doubtless expi'essing some dis- 
tinct phase of the singer's feeling. 

The Whitethroats at certain seasons are real friends to 
the gardener, as their food, and that of their young, is 
then almost entirely insectivorous. They live priii^ipally 
upon caterpiUars, small beetles, and winged insects, 
catching the latter in an adroit manner whilst upon the 
wing; but as summer advances the Whitethroat takes toll 
ot currants, raspberries, strawberries, and green figs, and 
in autumn elderberries are the staple food. 

The young do not obtain the bluish-grey upon the 
head until the succeeding spring, the feathers meanwhile 
being brown; neither have they the beautiful delicate shade 
of pink upon the breast until we see them again in England 
in the succeeding spring, upon their return migration. 
The autumn migration commences in September, and 
continues until October. Instances have occurred of theii' 
remaining later, an individual bird having been observed 
even in December ; l)ut this is rare. 



(iU 



FAMTLTAR IF I I.I) BIRDS. 



As^ is the case with niaiiY^ other birds, if disturbed 
svhilst sitting upon her nest, the female will often sipiulate 
being wounded, iiiul Mutter off, in the hope of attracting 
the intruder's iittention from her nest. Therefore the 
nest is easil y fou nd if the hedgerow is lieaten. 

From the sprightliuess of its nature, no less than its 
delicate Ijcauty, this bird is well worthy a place in any 
moderate-sized aviary, especially as its pretty song — 
delivered, too, whilst upon the wing — is not its only 
attraction, f(H- the Whitethroat will become very tame, and 
eat its food — especially mealworms — from the hand of its 
keeper. However, being a migratory bird, it will in most 
cases require artificial warmth, or at least that of a 
conservatory or sitting-room, during winteryj^ 




e 



I 



c/. 




GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN. 



/ 



THE GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN. 



Sylvia reyidiis. 
Motacilla „ 
CristatHs ,, 




^^ IT T S is the smallest of Euro- 
pean bh-ds. It is but '3| 
inclies in length, but is excep- 
tionally pretty. Whilst the 
birds are in flig-ht or in pur- 
suit of food it is difficult to 
determine the sexes, as at such 
times the distinguishing' crest 
is partially closed over by the 
black feathers on either side; 
but if influenced by pleasure or 
other excitement, the crest is ex- 
])anded, covering the whole of 
the head, and upon iDspection, 
it will be found that the male 
lias a broad orange (the female, 
lemon) streak from the forehead 
over the crown of the head. The 
w hole of the upper part of the body 
i<=! olive-green, but lighter towards 
the tail-coverts ; the under part 
is greyish-white, shaded — especially on 
the cheeks, throat, breast, and flanks 



G2 FAMILIAB WILD BIRDS. 

—with Ijuft". Tlie wing-s and tail are olive-green, but 
the flig-ht-feathers are etlg-ed with yellowish-white, and 
prettily barred with white, which is very perceptible in 
llig-lit. 

Although so diminutive, the Gold-crest is to be found 
in countries where the climate would ap])ear to be alto- 
gether prohibitory to so small a bird ; but the poor lijtle 
creature seems somehow to exist, even amid the snow 
and h'ost-bound wastes of Siberia, and jiositivelj revels 
amidst the i)ine-clad hills and mountains of Noinvay 
and Sweden ; indeed, the race w^ould appear particularly to 
affect the north, and it is chiefly in such countries that 
these birds build and make their homes. 

Though their powers of flight are necessarily re- 
stricted, the Gold-crest is a partially migratory bird, for 
although many stay in England throughout the winter, 
yet a number leave us. Another peculiar migration occurs 
in October, when these birds visit gardens in the south in 
such considerable numbers, that in 18S2, in a garden at 
Brighton, a boy killed with a catapult as many as twenty 
birds in one day. At these times, in spite of their gre- 
garious habits, they are continually fighting one another. 

Although their diminutive size often enables them 
to evade observation, the (Jold-crest is not a shy bird, 
but will allow an observer to approach within a few 
yards ; indeed, it would seem as if fear in a bird's mind 
increased in direct proportion to its size. Gales seem to 
have a great effect upon this pretty little bird, and it is 
more generally seen immediately after one of those dis- 
turbances of nature. Indeed, it would a]ipear that wind 
has a much more distressing influence upon these birds 
than even frost or snow. 



THE GOLDEX-CRESTED IFREX, 63 

The usual song of the Gold-crest is weak^ but very 
pleasing, and mu ch res embles that of the Common Wren. 
Its call is a shrill but weak note, most nearly represented 
by " tsit,Jsit/' 

Their muscular powers appear to be weak, as they 
seldom hop from pla-^e to place without calling in the 
assistance of the wings, which they seem to be always 
flapping whilst in pursuit of their food, for they flutter 
around and underneath the leaves, and pick off the insects 
that may have taken refuge there. They are most in- 
defatigal)le in their search, calling to one another mean- 
while, and so searching branch after branch, ridding them 
of any small insects that may be found, but especially 
small winged insects — or, according to the season, their 
larvaj — for it is upon such food that the Gold-crest feeds. 

This bird breeds early — usually during ^larch — building 
its nejt generally in a fir^ree, but sometimes in yews, 
or eveii in a laurustinus. The nest is dome-shaped, with 
a small aperture at the side, and not built upon the 
branches, but suspended therefrom, and at various heights 
from the ground, sometimes but five feet, varying to ten 
feet. The nest is built chiefly of gre_en moss, lichens, 
caterpjllars' cocoons, and the down of the flowering 
walbw; this structure is lined with feathers, but the 
exterior much resembles in appearance the branch upon 
which it is suspended. Observant dwellers in the country 
may have often noticed these nests, apparently deserted 
and unfinished. The reason is that, like the Common 
Wren, this diminutive bird makes various efforts in the way 
of nest-building before an edifice or its site gives satis- 
faction ; but when such is finally the case, the female 
deposits therein a various number of tiny eggs — though 



64 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

lar^e for the size ol' the bird — usually ei^^ht or nine, of a 
pale tiesh-colour, but so thickly spotted \vii:h reddish- 
brown as to comparatively alter the ground-colour. These 
spots, as a rule, form a ring at the larger end. The young 
are fed similarly to the parent birds, who are most earnest 
and painstaking in their endeavours to supply their callow 
brood with food. 

The young resemble the adult birds in general plu- 
mage, but are not so bright, and no yellow appears upon 
the head until after the first moult. 

The Golden-crested AVren may be kept in the aviary, 
but with great difKculty, as the food necessitates constant 
attention; whilst their size is such, that the slightest 
mishap occasions death. One or twq^ eases are, however, 
known in which the bird has been bred and reared in 



captivity^ X 




i 



-/ 




JAY.. 
(t Scale.) 



X THE JAY. 

CorvHS f/landar'ms — Pennant, Bewick. 
Garrulus glandariiis — Selhy, Gould. 

EW birds have obtained such 
unenviable notoriety as the Jaj'. 
Equally with the Magpie ab- 
horred by the husbandman, far- 
mer_, and gamekeeper, the Jay, 
in the reign of George II., was 
considered such a desperate cha- 
racter, that an Act of Parliament 
was passed empo\vering certain 
authorities to pay a reward of 
threepence per head for every 
slaughtered bird. Doubtless this 
had the effect of lessening the 
■^^'^ number, for although the Jay is 
still common to almost all parts 
of England, it is not what may 
be termed jilentiful. This, too, is 
because, like most of the tribe. 
Jays show a preference to certain 
localities, though without any 
apparent reason, as the regions 
they affect are generally low 
waste lands, without the means 
of subsistence that a neigh- 
bouring fertile locality would 




6(5 FAMILIAR WILD JilltDS. 

oljvioiisly afford. Tliis peculiarity is more noticoahle in 
the Jay, inasmuch as its food io of a more vegetable charac- 
ter tlian the rest of the decidedly i)ronouneed Corvidae 
family. 

The home of the Jay^ is generally pitched in woods, or 
in plantations known locally as copses, shaws, or spinneys, 
and from these vantage-grounds this bird lays all the 
surrounding country under tribute. The food indiudes, 
besides insects and worms, the egg;s and yoinig of 
small birds, fruit, such as cherries, peas, and such like 
vegetables, anything in the shape of corn or grain : 
indeed, keepers of preserves have to be especially watchful 
to see that the Indian corn and other food placed for the 
game is not eaten by the Jays in the neighbourhood. 

Doubtless the Jay has his good qualities, and possildy, 
did he not eat the insects they would demolish more than 
he does ; but the gun of the gamekeeper and trap of the 
husbandman are still as much directed against the Jay as 
against the ]Magpie. 

X^nlike that bird, the Jivj' builds an open uegt without 
the domejjke protection, and much resembling a very 
large Blackbird's, pest. The structure is generally hidclen 
amoiigst the leaves in a thick_tree or bush, and composed 
externally of short sticks and t^vigs, hned with fine roots 
and grasses. The egg-s are usually five_or six in number, 
of a yellowish-white ground colour, though this colour is 
somewhat obscured by a multitude of greenish-brown spots, 
that materially alters the general appearance of the cg^, 
which is also streaked with several lines of black around 
the larger end. 

Jays have usually but one nest in the year, and, like 
Magpies, the young birds congregate around the district in 



THE J At.. 6? 

wliicli the nest is situated, and from this rendezvous start 
upon their depredating expeditions. 

Even if the small birds (whose unceasing clamour 
invariably proclaims the arrival of a Jay or Jays in their 
vicinity) do not make the fact of their presence known, the 
notorious garrulity of the Jay would attract the attention 
of the most stolid passer-by. Indeed, gamekeepers often 
find Jays to be useful detectives, since their continuous 
chattering is known to determine the presence of some 
adverse power in the wood wherein i\\ey wished to be sole 
depredators. Therefore the Jay earns universal dislike, for 
even the poacher knows this bird''s proclivities to be so apt 
to betray his presence, as to completely neutralize the 
silence of his well-trained lurcher. 

When taken_young, the Jay makes a nice pet, for his 
plumage is more beautiful thanthat of aiv^ of his genus. 
Eveii the JNIagpie cannot_xie with the Jay in delicacy of 
colouring or effectiv e con trast. The crest upon the head of 
this bird is a striking characteristic, as the feathers, which 
are greyish-white, have a streak of black along the shaft, 
whilst the ends are tinged with purplish-red, and these, 
being elongated, can be elevated at will, and may denote 
either pleasure or fear. From the base of either lower 
mandible is a In-uad streak of black, giving the appearance 
of a moustache. The wing is exceptionally beautiful, as 
may be presumed from the plate, which nothing over-rates 
reality. The white feathers upon the lower part of the 
back are ])articularly noticeable in flight, which is dull and 
heavy. 

The note of the Jay is far from plea sing, being a 
rapidly-delivered h arsh s ort of chatter. Some naturalists 
have made mention of its song, but say it cannot be heard 



iiS 



F J MI LIAR WILL lilRD^. 



at any distance. The bircl, howev'er, may with patience 
be tauglit to talk in ahiiost equal degree with the Magpie, 
and somewhat in advance of the Starling. Its powers of 
mimicry are nnusually ^reat, as it will imitate extraordinary 
sounds very readily, and seems to take a pleasure in doing 
so. It is singular that, like a great many other birds with 
these peculiarities, the Jay is naturally inquisitive and 
somewhat mischievous, and should therefore be carefully 
watched. 

It is almost impossible to distinguish the difference 
between male and female, their plumage being the same ; 
possibly, as with most of this family, the female may be 
the larger, but that is at best but a diihcult test. In the 
sunlight the plumage glistens and appears particularly 
resplendent^ X 





GREEN WOODPECKER.. 



THE GEEEN WOODPECKER, 



I'ici/s riridis 




ARGEST of the tribe, this Jjird 
is also extremely handsome, few 
British birds being- able to rival 
the gorg-eous colour of its plu- 
mage. Althougli_ g-reen is the 
prevailing tint, yet that colour 
shades off to yellow towards the 
upper part of the tail. Upon the 
top of the head is a brilliant 
crimson, the feathers being black, 
tipped with red, forming a slight 
pencilling. These feathers some- 
times assume the form of a pariia) 
crest. From the base of the beak 
to the back of the eye is black, 
and down each side of the throat, 
forming a kind of moustache, 
runs a crimson streak, bordered 
with black. The outer wing- 
feathers are barred with greyish- 
black and squares of buff'. The 
hen may be distinguished from 
the male by the fact that she 
does not possess the crimson 



70 fAMITJAIi Tf'ILD BIRDS. 

moustache. The ordinary len^^tli of the bml is about 
thirteen inches. It naturally prefers padjs and old 
timbered woods, as such ])]aces afford the most plentiful 
supply o f fo od. 

It is known by a variety of names, most of whieli, 
however, are entirely local. Amongst others, it is peijiaps 
most generally known as the Popinjay and Awl Bird ; 
yet it is also known by the names of " Rain " bird 
and " To ng ue " bird, whilst in the sou^ it is com- 
monly termed the '' Yaffle," or " Gaily " bird. It is 
foiind throughout England, and also upon the Coiitinent. 

The flight of the "Woodpecker is undulating, and yet 
somewhat heavy ; usiuilly only extended from tree to 
tree. It will aliy-ht at the base and ascend the trunk 
spirajly, clinging with its feet to the ba£k, and sup- 
porting itself with its tail, searching the bai'k and 
leaves for insects meanwhile. The descent of tlie tree 
is accomplished in a backward manner. The ttiil, 
which is esi)ecially strong and why, is used bf)th in the 
ascent and descent. 

In order to obtain the insects secreted in the crevices 
of the bark, the Woodpecker is provided witli a most 
wonderful tongue, some inches in length, very prehensile, 
of a silvery a})p('araneo. When in search of food, 
this orgim is protruded with niarvellmis celeritv, and, 
being covered with a glutinous substance, it invariablv 
secures the object^jiinK'd at; it is then as quickly with- 
draAvn, with the food adhering. 

The l)eak is wedge-shaped, long and strung, and used 
by the bird to ta]) at tlie bark in order io induce the 
insects to emerge from tiieir retreat. The eye is clear 
and white. 



THE GEE EN WOODPECKER. 71 

The Woodpecker can hardly be said to build a nes t, 
and yet it takes an immense amount of trovible in pre- 
paring^ a site wherein to deposit the eg-g-s. This k in a 
hole made by the birds by continuous chipping with their 
beaks in an old tree^ and the chips of wood broken off 
by the bii]ds in the operation are said to be carried some 
distance^ in order that the hole^ may escape detection. 
The entl-ance is small^ but a larger cavity is scooped out 
in the tree, and upon some of the dry chips of wood 
the eggs are deposited. These are usually from five to 
six in number^ piire white in colour, and so transparent 
that the yolk is visible. 

The young are fed upon the same insect food as the 
adults. They will leave the nest before they can fly, 
and run upon the branches of the tree. 

The young are not so brilliantly arrayed as the adult 
l)irds, and the crimson of the moustache and iipon the 
head is much fainter. The black, too, is marred by 
feathers tinged with greyish-white, whilst the breast 
from the chin is much lighter, and the green generally 
not so bright ; the plumag-e having somewhat of a speckled 
appearance. 

The Green Woodpecker can be found in England 
throughout the year, generally sing-ly or in pairs; for 
it is strictly non-gregarious, and pursues its avocation 
in a quiet manner, except for the noise made by the 
beak tapping upon the bark. Yet, as many of our readers 
may remember, the Woodpecker is possessed of one of the 
most peculiar songs to be found; indeed, it is generally 
spoken of as a "\ix.\x^," and is very variously interpreted. 
Morris speaks of it as " glou, glou, glou, gluek ! " but to 
our ears it sounds more like ^'yaffa, yaffa, yaffle ! " which 



72 



FAMILIAR iriLT) BIRDS. 



may account for its southern name of " Yaffle.'' This 
son<]^ is uttered in an ahrupt manner, and, when heard 
in the quiet seclusion of a park, surrounded by noble 
old " monarehs of the wood,'' it has a peculiarly startling 
effect. 

The feet of the Woodpecker are especially adapted 
to climbing- ; they are strong-, dark-coloured, and the toes 
are roughened beneath, whilst the claws are strong and 
much hooked. The arrangement of the toes is also 
peculiar, as there are two in front and two behind. 

If obtained when young, this bird will live well in 
an avijiry or large cage. It is perhaps not advisable to 
place it in an ordinary aviary, as its size and habits may 
frighten the smaller birds. If a separate one, or one 
inhabited by Tits or a Nuthatch, be available, the peculiar 
habits, song or " laugh," and the peculiar tongue — which 
has the appearance of a streak of white silk or molten 
silver — of the Woodpecker, will amply repay all trouble/jL^ 





GREENFINCH. 

Ct Scale.) 



THE aEEENFINCH, 

Coccothraustes chloris. 
FringiUa chloris. 




HE Greenfinch ^ is perhaps the 
least, interesting of the Finch 
tribe, if it be possible to imagine 
anj^ of the family less interest- 
ing than another ; but it is only 
necessary to watch this bird in 
its natural condition, to observ^e 
very many instances of that in- 
scrutable instinct which teaches 
all living nature its own par- 
ticular work in the economy 
of life. 

Hanclsorae in plumage the 
Greenfijich would be, did not a 
certain sober-coloured grey so 
much predominate. In form 
the bird is somewhat heavy, 
from which circumstance it is 
known in some districts by the 
sobriquet of '" Gree n Ch ub/^ It 
is also_ known as the " Green 
Linnet," though totally dis- 
similar from the sprightly Lin- 
net, both in form and plumage. 
Its flight is varied according to 



74 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

the season : in the sprinjj the niale^ llies with a mciHou 
somewhat similar to that of the Swallow, and uttei-s its 
song in the fulness of its heart whilst upon the wiii^- ; 
but when the exuberance of summer has subsided its flight 
(jeeomes modified, and though still quick and strong, is quite 
straight, with a very rapid movement of the wings. "When 
collected in flocks, the birds fly closely together, and make 
a splendid chance shot for the embryo sportsman. They are 
also easily caught in a net or traj), the gullibility of a 
Greenfinch being remarkable; perhaps their habit of 
congregating together makes the attraction of a brace, 
or call-bird, doubly enticing. 

The hen is somewhat similar in appearance to the male 
bird, but is shorn of the glory of the brilliant yellow that 
forms his chief attraction, a dull, greenish, leaden grey 
being the prevailing colour of her plumage. 

Greenfiuclies generally build_ their nest in high and thiek 
hedges, but are very easily pleased with a building sjte, 
often choosing bushes, especially elder or e\'ergre_ens, and 
sometimes the small lowe£ branches of a tree. The 
nest is somewhat loose as regai'ds the exterior, which is 
composed of twigs and a lo t of moss ; but they study the 
comfc)rt of the interior more narrowly, lining it softly with 
wool, feathers, and horsehair. The eggs are generally five 
or six in number, though as many as seven have been 
known. ' In about fourteen days the youjig are hatched, 
and are fed by the pareiit birds untiX_old enough to 
leave the nest. Their appearance at this time is very 
(lilfcMvnt, l)eing greenish-grey upon the upper parts, and 
with this colour as a groundwork, streaked with dark brown 
upon the back, breast, and throat. Their mouths are of a 
dark crimson inside when in the nest, and are always open 



THE GREENFINCH^ 75 

for food. A pair of birds will bu ild as many as three or 
fou^r ne sts in a year. 

The young", upon becoming- full-fledged, will all fly out 
of the nest together at the slightest imminent danger ; 
as many a schoolboy may remember, when, after watching 
a nest with exemplary patience, he finds his treasure 
escape him just when he had made up his mind to possess 
it. The parent birds, when disturbed upon the nest, do 
not fly far away, but continue around, uttering most 
melancholy lamentations. The exceedingly j^laintive tone 
of their long " tway^' is enough to strike remorse into the 
heart of the most inveterate bird-nester. 

The song of the Greenfinch is better than generally 
imagined, though diifering in individv;als, consisting- as it 
does of only a few notes; but these are somewhat full 
and rich, though slightly marred by a few harsh notes that 
are occasionally interspersed. 

Greenfinches feed upon almost all kinds of grain and 
seeds, especially dandelion, of which they are very fond, 
not even despising those growing by the country roadsides, 
where indeed they are generally plentiful ; groundsel, chick- 
weed, and sowthistle also help to swell the bill of fare, 
and in the spring-^^time the sweet young buds and the 
gardener's radish and cabba_ge seeds have to sufEer. In 
winter, when all these dainties have disappeared, the 
Greenfinch makes shift with hips and haws, and will visit 
farm-yards and rick-yards and haystacks in search of food. 

Towards the end of autumn Greenfinches congregate 
together, and when the migratory season is at hand appear 
in large flocks. But the bird is only partially migratory ; 
and whilst many seek a more congenial climate, a very 
large number remain in Eng-land the whole of the winter. 



7G 



I'AMUJAU II III) JilJiJjS. 



Diiriii*^ the winter these l)irds will often admit stranf^ers 
of the same class into their Hoek, and many a stray Chaf- 
finch or Linnet may be observed feedin*';' with them. When 
alarmed, they all rise and hnrry off to the nearest tree. A 
stray one amidst a flock of Linnets may always be so 
traced, as the Linnets remain in the open, while the Green- 
finch rushes off to shelter. 

The Greenfinch is, perhaps, the coninioncstof the ri£ch 
tribe, the Sparrow alone excepted, and is to be found 
throug-hout the whf)le of the cultivated portions of Great 
Britain, and is well known in L'eland. The leiig-th and 
brei^th of Europe is laid under contribution, and al ong* the 
Levant and in Asia Minor it is plentiful^ ^ 



I 




^ F^W*" 




REDSTART, 
(• Scale.) 



V 



THE REDSTART, 



Phcenlcura rutkilla. 
Si/lvia phumicuros. 




LTHOUGH one of the hand- 
somest of* English song-birds, 
the Redstart is but little known 
by nimie^ except to ornitholo- 
gists — and this, too, in spite of 
the fact that it is not uncom- 
mon, especially in certain locali- 
ties, where, however, when 
noticed, it is generally denomi- 
nated by the najne of " Fire- 
tail/^ This sobriquet is derived 
from the peculiar manner in 
which it shakes its tail, which 
is totajly different from the 
steady up-and-down manner 
peculiar to the Wagtails and 
various " Chats/^ When dis- 
turbed, the Redstart does not 
fly far, nnless danger be immi- 
nent, but contents itself with a 
short flight of from twenty 
to thirty yards, settling upon 
an outer branch; and there it 
calmly sits, and shakes its tail 
whilst reconnoitring. Many 



78 F.I.VILIJli ini.I) IHRDS. 



persons, doublk'ss, wlion walkiiio- aluijjj^ a quiet roadside 
or near a copjjice, may have noticrd the peculiar Jaeties 
of this almo st Or ientally-coloured bird, and at the same 
time wondered as to its name and nationality. ~ 

C^ The pluma<re of the liedstart is subject to variety, 
according to the season. That in summer is very striking- : 
the beak is black, except at the corners, which are yellow, 
as is also the inside ; from the base of the beak towards 
the eye, and the chin, throat, and upper part of the breast, 
it is black, the feathers being generally slightly edged with 
grey. The forehead is white ; the wings are brown, the outer 
edges of the feathers rather lighter; the lower part of the 
breast, the sides, and rump are bright rusty red, the belly 
much lighter, shading below to rusty yellow; the neck and 
back are leaden-grey, slightly tinged with red ; the tail is 
rusty red, with two brown feathers in the centre. In winter, 
the adult males, as also the young males of the year after 
their autumnal moult, are not jwssessed of the white fore- 
head, the feathers being then edged with brown ; the chin, 
throat, and breast are tipped with whitish-grey, and the 
upper part of the body becomes pale reddish-brown, tinged 
with the grey. The length of the Red^art is about 
5i_inches.) 

The female is much less handsome, and is also a trifle 
smaller, than the male. An uniform greyish-brown ]ier- 
vades the upper part ; the chin and throat are dusky-white ; 
the breast is dirty rust colour ; the wings are lighter, but 
the tail is not quite so bright. 

Its haiints are very varjed iu their nahire, sometimes 
being a most retired and sequestered spot, or thickets and 
hedgerows, and agam even near to dwelling-houses. The 
nest is placed in a hole in aj,ree or wall, or amongst the loose 



THE REDSTART. 70 

stones of a fallen wall, or in a nook behind a tree_grovviug 
against a house. This nest is loosely constructed of roots 
and grasses, with a few feathers and hairs. The eggs^ 
which much resemble those of the HedgeJ^Darrow, though 
lighter^ are apple^igreenjin colour, and vary in number from 
five to s even. 

The young birds, as soon as the wing and tail feathers 
attain any size, do not continue in the nest throughout the 
day, but may be seen perched upon the branches of a 
neighbouring bush or tree, whilst the parents are busily 
feeding them. 

The fowl of tlie Redstart is almost enti rely in secti- 
voimis, and consists chiejly of ants and their eggs, flies, 
mo^s, spiders, caterp^i^llars, worms, and beetles. As with 
Flycatchers, they pursue flies and moths upon the wijng 
as well as when feeding upon the ground. The young 
are fed upon a similar diet. 

As before mentioned, these birds are migratory, and 
begin to arrive in this country about the beginning of 
April ; and they are more generally to be observed, especially 
in the hedgerows, at this time, than when, later on, they 
are absorbed in the duties of incubation. They retire to 
the Continent in September, though isolated cases have 
happened when a bird has been observed later. 

The song of the Redstart is very pretty, although com- 
posed of but few notes — indeed, somewhat similar to that 
of the Whitethroat ; unlike that bird, hov/ever, its manner 
of delivery is very different, as the song is generally uttered 
whilst sitting upon a tree. It is continued, with inter- 
missions, from morning until evening. Its call-notes are 
varied. Morris likens one to " chippoo,^^ whilst McGilliv- 
ray describes another as " oichit.^^ 



80 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



This bird may be kept in a cag-e or aviary, where its 
handsome appearance will immediately attract attention. 
Redstarts are, however, very delicate, and require artificial 
heat in Avinter, and will seldom thrive uid3ss meat be i?iven 
and a plentiful supply of meal-worms. They have been 
reported to have learnt to whistle a tune, Mr. Sweet 
mentioninfi^ one so gifted. They will, even in a state of 
nature, imitate the songs of other birds^ such as the Robin, 
Lesser Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Garden AVarbler, and even 
the chirping of the Sparrow ; and were they more hardy 
and susceptible of aviary domestication, there is no doubt 
that their powers of song could be considerably developed, 
as in the case of the Canar^^ )( 




(r 



m.. 




<^jssii«saw^_> 



v.^^ 




SMEW. 



( 



X 



THE SMEW. 

Ifergus albellus. 




HE Sniew, or, as it is fre- 
quently called, the Srnee, is 
a bij-d of handsome ap- 
pearaiiee, the plumage con- 
sisting- of striking contrasts, 
and the head ornamented 
with a plume. It is about 
the size of the Wio-eon. 

Smews are winter visitors 
only, and their numbers vary 
very considerably. In some 
winters they are scarce in the 
extreme, whilst in others they 
are met with in comparative 
freqiiency. Under all cir- 
cumstances, however, the 
specimens most commonly 
procurable are the females 
and young males, and the 
latter are generally known as 
" Red Headed Smews.'' 

In addition to the sea-coast 
these birds resort to most 
of the slow muddv rivers. 



82 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

inland lakes, fens, and indeed any large sheet of fresh 
water. 

The eastern coasts of onr own eonntry are the parts 
most usually resorted to; in Germany and Holland the 
bird is well known, and it is said to he found in France, 
Switzerland, Provence, and Italy. It has not yet 
been observed in the Arctic portions of North America, and 
only verv rarely in the United States. 

Crustacea, aqnatjejiisects of every de^ription, and the 
smaller kinds of fish, are the princijial jtems of their_ diet, 
and are jn'ocured largely by diving. 

The Smew is certainly the most accomplished diver 
and swimmer of its tribe. It seems to be as much at 
home beneath the water as upon the surface — indeed, the 
rapidity and ease with which fish are pursued and captured 
are almost incredible. On terra Jirma its method of pro- 
o-ression is slow, awkward, and ungainly : a state of 
things immediately attributable to the position of the legs, 
which are placed very near the end of the body. The flight 
is strong and sti-aight, and the birds are noted for the 
long distances over which their journeys occasionally 
extend. AYhilst engaged in feeding, and indeed at all 
times, the Smew is a shy, cautious, and vigilant bird, 
difiieult of approach, and always warily looking out for 
danger. 

In the winter the birds arc gregarious, and are 
met with in small ilocks, feeding together for mutual 
safety. 

In the spring of the year these birds leave our islands 
and proceed farther north ; they breed in localities situated 
in high northern or north-eastern latitudes, and at this 
period of their life very little detailed information is obtain- 



THB SMETF. 83 

able about them. The e^s, which closely resemble those 
of the Wigeoii, are of a creamy-whitish colour, finely 
grained, and slig-htlxglossy — seven or eig-ht are usually laid. 

In the adult male the bill is one inch and a half in 
length, of a bluish-lead colour, and the nail horny and 
white ; the upper mandible is curved at the extremity, and 
the edges of both mandibles are furnished with saw-like 
teeth which point directly backward. The irides reddish- 
brown ; at the base of the bill on each side a black patch 
which just surrounds the eye ; from the crown of the head 
and down the back of it, another dark patch elongated 
and tinged with green, the dark feathers mixed with others 
that are white, and all somewhat elongated, forming a crest; 
the other parts of the head, the chin, and all the neck 
white ; the back black ; the rump, upper tail coverts, and 
tail-feathers ash-grey ; the points of the wings greyish- 
black, with two crescent-shaped lines of black, one before, 
and one behind the point of the wing ; the small wing 
coverts and scapulars white, the latter edged with black ; 
the great coverts and secondaries black tipped with white, 
forming two narrow bands of white ; the primaries nearly 
black; tertials ash-grey merging into lead-grey; all 
the under surface of the body pure white ; the sides under 
the wing and the flanks barred with narrow ash-grey 
lines ; legs, toes, and membranes bluish and lead-grey ; 
the hind toe has a pendant lobe or membrane attached 
to it. The entire length is about seventeen inches and 
a half. 

Females are considerably smaller than the males, seldom 
measuring more than fourteen and a half inches. The 
plumage of the female is different from that of the other sex ; 
the top of the head is reddish brown; the bands of white are 



Rl 



yjMlLIAR iriLI) BIRDS. 



much niirrowcr, and the rest o£ the markings are duller and 
less contrasted. 

Young males for the first twelvemonth resemble the 
female, the white markings not making their appearance 
until the second autumn month. 

The young females are also some time assuming their 
complete plumage!) X 




4 



t/U. 






t 




'^iS^ 



ROCK PIPlTf 
()! Scale, 1 



J^ THE ROCK PIPIT. 

Anthus aquaiicus. 
Alaiida ohscura. 




HE Roclv_Pipit, 01% as it is 
variously called, '' Shore 
Pi^Lt/' "RoekLark/^ and 
" Sea titling/' although pos- 
sessing a general similarity 
to the Tree^Pijiit and Meadow 
Pi|y^t, is somewhat larger and 
much darker on the throat 
and breastj whilst its plumage 
on the upper portions of the 
body is more ot" an olive 
brown. 

This bird^ is well known in 
all the northern parts of 
Europe^ as well as the more 
temperate parts^ and it may 
even be met with in Green- 
land and some other districts 
of the Polar regions. It is a 
thoroughly hardy bird, and 
is additionally interesting 
from its being, as Morris de- 
scribes it, " one of our true 
' ah origine ' birds. ^^ 



86 lAMUAAR JflLD JjJIiUS. 

Its nanie^ is no tloubt owing- to the partiality ovinceO 
l)y_it for rocky and billj places^ but it by no means eon- 
fines itself to these loeaUties, and is very frequently to be 
met with in spots of quite a different character. It would 
seem to be especially partial to low, flat, shingly or marshy 
flats that are now and then covered by the sea; and in these 
place the bird may be commonly observed diligently seek- 
ing for the small marine insects which form a favourite 
item in its diet. 

The Rock Pipit is generally to be found in the imme- 
diate vicinjty of several_more of its own spepies. although 
they do not congregate in ilocks. AVhen disturbed it 
seldom flies to any great distance, but contents itself with 
a short flitting to a more secure spot in the immediate 
neighbourhood, uttering an uneasy '' cheep ^' of alarm and 
distrust. 

Its fo od consis ts of marine insects, wonns, and ])robably 
some sor ts of se eds. The sonji^ is not of a ver y elab orate 
character, and con^i^ts of the single note " ch eep " re- 
peated jn^re or less according to circumstances. In the 
summer time the bird undoubtedly indulges occasionally in 
a more ])rolonged effort at harmony, but not sutticiently to 
warjiaut the title of songster ; there is, however, a cheeri- 
ness in his voice that is always acceptable. 

The Rock Pipit commences nesting usually about the end 
of April or the beginning of May, and as a rule_selects some 
place close to the sea-shore. The nest is placed sometimes 
on the ground, and sometimes in a hole in the rocks or 
banks, ])ut almost always in some place protected by some 
jirojcction or eminence. Or}- grass, stalks of s ea or wate r 
plants, and line fi \)i-es are used in building jtl ie ne st, which 
in most eases is lined with wool, fine^m^s, or liair. The 



THE ROCK PiriT, 87 

eggs vary in number from fo ur to six, and diff er very m uch 
in app earan ce. They are of a pale y ellowish or bro'\vnish- 
white, spotted with brownish-red, the markings being 
thick and r un t ogether at the lar ger e nd. Occas_ionally, 
however, the ega;_s are almost en tire ly brown, and at otJier 
times they may be seen of a greeiiisli-|0^rey colour with 
a streak at the thi cker end. The surface of the eggs is 
dujl and devoid of polish. 

The Rock Pipit, although not a migratory bird, is 
certainly given to extensive movements in our own country, 
for the birds are regularly found in the autumn and winter 
on many portions of the coast, from wliich they as regu- 
larly disappear in the spring. 

The male bird is very nearly six and three-quarter 
inches in length, and the female a trifle less, but there is 
no great difference in the plumage. The bill is dusky in 
colour, both upper and lower mandibles being yellowish at the 
base ; iris, a deep brown; a narrow whitish or yellowish- white 
streak runs over the iris, and another beneath the hinder 
part ; in some birds the upper streak is not always very 
easily seen. The base of the bill has a few short bristly 
feathers; the head and crown are brown, slightly tinged 
with olive ; the neck on the sides is a greenish- white 
streaked with brown ; and the back is pretty much the 
same as the heajcl. Chin and throat a dull yellowish-white, 
the latter streaked with brown; breast, a dull greenish- 
white with brown streaks and spots, turning lower down 
into a yellowish-white with fewer streaks; the sides are 
olive-brown ; the back is a dull greenish-brown, the centre 
of each feather being dark brown. The tail is rather long, 
and extends about an inch and a half beyond the closed 
wings ; it is dusky in colour, and the outside feathers are 



88 



FAMILIAR JFILB BIRDS. 



webbed with white, the central feathers being shorter than 
the others. The wings are dusky, edged with pale oUve. 
Legs and toes, reddish-brown ; claws black and curved, 
especially the hinder one, which is longer than the rest. 

The prett^^ oliye_ tinges in the plumaor;e at some seasons 
of the year change to a greyish tiuQX 




(S^. 




RINGDOVE. 

(J Scale.) 



THE EINaDOVE* 

Coluinba palumhas. 




HIS bird is perhaps niore gene- 
rally known in country districts 
as the Wood-pigeon, whilst it 
also possesses in some localities 
the name of Cushat, which 
latter name more generally 
applie^s to poetica l refere nces. 

The voice of the Ringdove 
must have been heard by every- 
one in the habit of walking in 
the country where trees are 
plentiful. Sometimes, accord- 
ing to the tenor of the hearer's 
thoughts or mental condition, 
the soft '' coo-coo^ co-co-cqoo " 
has a soothing, sometimes a 
melancholy influence ; and we 
have known persons particu- 
larly irritated by the weari- 
some iteration. But what 
poetry would do without the 
voice and reputed faithful- 
ness of the Dove as a rhyme to 
'' love,'' only those who have 
never scribbled verse can tell. 



90 FAMILIAR JflLI) BIRDS. 

The lenirth of the Riny'clovc is from 17^ to 18 inches. 
Thepluniage is of a o-encrally distnbuted slate^colour ; 
upon each_ sjde of the neck is a patch of white feathers, 
surrounded by a mig of brig-ht green and some pui-ple 
feathers, from which circumstance its name Riugdov'C is 
derived. AVhen in flight the white feathers upon the 
wing will at once determine its denomination. The 
sexes are difficult to distinguish. 

As may be imaiyned from one of its names, these birds 
inhabit wooded districts, and are to be found throughout 
the British Isles and Europe generally. The nest is 
usually built upon the forks of trees, sometimes but from 
six to eight feet from the ground, yet at others from that 
height up to the top of the tree. They ^v^ll also_ often 
bui[d their nest in ivy. Tiiis nest is built of tw[gs, loosely 
laid upon the forked branches, and of so light and fragile 
a nature that the e«^s and young may often be discerned 
from beiieath. In connection with the nest of this bird, 
we cannot forbear from quoting a local anecdote. The 
Magpie was instructing the Dove in nest-building. " You 
place twigs thus and thus, and others thus and thus, inter- 
lacing." "Oh, T see!'' said the Dove. "Go and do it, 
then,'' said the Magpie, who now has a covered nest, 
whereas the anticipatory Do_ve has but a poor frame\vork of 
a foundation for a nest, which seems made simjjly to be 
blown away. How unlijce, for instjince, the beautiful njest 
of the Chaffinch or the poor little Wrens! These seem to 
provide against every eventuality; but the thoughtless 
Ringdove seems to imagine that there can be no storms, that 
the Ijranches of the trees cannot move beneath the influence 
of the wind ; and, as a consequence, the two white eggs or 
the young are often blown from the nest and destroyed. 



TMU EIXGBOVE.. 91 

The shape of the eggs, which are hut two in numher, is 
a rounded oval ; and they are pure^hitejn colour. They 
are esteemed hy some to be delicious eating. 

Two _broods are usually produced in the yeai' ; but, 
especially if mishap has befallen either of the previous 
ne_sts, they will sometimes have three. Both parents assist 
in the duties of incubation. The young are partially 
covered with yellow down, and do not obtain their full 
sight for about nine days. Their plumage is not so bright 
as that of the adult bird, having a brownish tinge ; and 
the ring upon the neck is not obtained until after the 
first moult. 

Althoug-h Wood-pigeons drink but seldoin, they fegd 
to repletion, and retixe to digest their meal in quiet. The 
fo od cons ists of cqrii and grain, beechmast, peas, tares and 
vetches, acoriis, and in hard times even hazel-nuts ; it is 
therefore entirely of a vegetable nature ; in fact, this is one 
of the few birds that totally abstain from insectivorous or 
carnivorous food. They als^feed upon the young shoots 
of turnip-tops. Being of a gregarious nature, many of these 
birds (sometimes even in company with the domesticated 
pigeon) will assail a corn or other seed-sown field, and, with 
stately step and nodding head, speedily demolish any seeds 
or grain that rain or other adverse circumstances may have 
left exposed. At these times, however, they do not allow 
themselves to be taken at any disadvantage ; but, as with 
the Rook and Starling, they place vedettes around, who 
give due notice of any intrusion or danger. 

The minds of farmers and others are considerably 
exercised as to whether the Wood-pigeon, or Ringdove, 
repays for the corn, &c., devoured, even when the bird is in 
turn eaten amid all the savoury surroundings of pigeon-pie. 



92 



FAMILIAR iriLD BIRDS. 



The ordinary Hight of the Rim^love is very stnMisj^ and 
rajjid. If disturbed whilst sitting- upon the nest, the bn;d 
seems, to corampnce her flig-ht in a bkindering style, accom- 
panied with a peculiar clapping- or flapping- of the wings, 
which may be heard at a considerable distance, especially 
when severa,l commence flying- simultaneously. And this 
peculiarity occurs even during their ordinary flight*^ Ji;' 




.' r"^ f "^ 



C: 




x-^ 




QUAIL. 
(^ i?cale.) 



X 



THE QUAIL, 



Podix cotinnlx. 
Tetrao coturnix. 




HIS well-kno\vn bii;d was 
formerly much more common 
in Great Britain thaii_ it is 
a_t_ the present day ; indeed, 
less than a century ago, the 
Quail was regularlyjound 
in great^ abundance in many 
parts of the counhy where 
now its a])pearance is con- 
sidered a rarity. In Ireland 
it is sa^l their numbers have 
shown no^^igns of diminish- 
ing. In Scotland they have 
never been common. York- 
shire, Norfolk, Berkshire, 
Lincolnshire, Surrey, and 
Devonshire may be men- 
tioned as i^laces in which 
they are met with more 
frequently than elsewhere. 

At one time the Quail was 
regarded purely as a sum- 
mer visitor, but numerous 
instances are recorded of 



94 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

tlu'ir liavin<Tf been shot in this country duriug the winter, 
so that their migratory habits are certaiuly not universal. 

In its gener al app earance this bird may be described as a 
" partridge in miniature/' The male is occasionally poly- 
amous. The note (which is coiifmed to the male bird) is a 
shrilly \yhistling cry rapidly repeated three or four times in 
suc cess ion. 

The Quail does not spend muc htiip e or trouble in con- 
structing- a nest, but cont ents itself by scrajjing out a 
small hollow in the ground, and placing therein a few bits 
of lia;^, sti;aw, dricd_^rass, and stalks. The number of e ggs 
laid is about ten, but nests are occasionally found contain- 
ing a larger number. The colour of the eggs is yellowish- 
whjte, or greenish, blotched and speckled with bro^'n; the}' 
measure a little more than an inch in length, and not quite 
an inch in breadth. Wheatfields, or patclies of clover and 
grass, are the places usual ly_ selected for nesting in. The 
young birds are able to follow the old birds very soon 
aftgr they are hatched, and feed upon grain, seeds, insects, 
and small tend er leas es . 

The flight of the Quail is straight and rapid. Generally 
the birds keep very close to the ground, and after being 
lired at or alarmed once, show great rehictance to take 
wing a second time. They are very fond of frequenting 
stubble-fields, and many are killed by the sportsman when 
in search of partridges. 

The flesh of this bii-d is delicate in flavour, and much 
esteemed as an ai'ticle of food. Enormous quantities are 
sent to this country fi'om France, and find a ready sale in 
our markets and poulterers' shops, generally after a course 
of fattening in England. 

But although the Quail is not a common bird in Great 



THE QUAIL. 95 

Britain, it is found in the south^ of Europe in numbers that 
are said almost to defy_caleulation. lu the mo nth of A pril 
these birds arrive from Africa on the islands of the Grecian 
Archvpelago in '' countless thousands/^ and Yarrell states 
" that as many as one hundred thousand have been taken 
in one day on the west side of the kingdom of Naples.'-' 
In these migratory flights, which are performed during 
the night, the males arrive first, and it is stated that 
amongst the large numbers sent to us annually by the 
French bird-dealers, and in the first lots, there are more 
males than females. In captivity these birds feed freely, 
and rather rapidly. They are particularly partial to hemp 
and millet seeds. 

The geogra2:)hical range over which the Quail is distri- 
bnted is a wide one, as it is met with, in Africa from the 
Cape of Good Hope to Egypt, India, China, and the 
countries of Europe as far north as Scandinavia. 

Ornitholoo-ists are now agreed that the Quails men- 
tioned in Scripture, as furnishing the children of Israel 
with food, are identical with the bird here described. 

In the adult male the beak is brownish-grey ; the irides 
hazel ; top of the head dark brown, with a pale wood- 
brown streak from the base of the beak on each side over 
the eye and the ear-coverts, and a narroAV streak of the 
same colour over the crown of the head to the nape of the 
neck ; the plumage of the back, wings, rump, and tail, 
brown, with lighter-coloured shafts and streaks of wood- 
brown ; wing-primaries dusky-brown, mottled with light 
brown ; chin and throat white, bounded by two half-circu- 
lar dark-brown bands descending from the ear-coverts, 
and with a black patch at the bottom in front j breast, pale 
chestnut-brown, with the shafts of the feathers straw 



9B 



FAMILIAR WILB BIRDS. 



colour ; lower part of the breast, belly, vent, and under 
tail-covevts, yellowish-white ; the flanks streaked with pale 
chestnut ; legs, toes, and claws, pale brown. 

The female has no marks descendino^ down the sides of 
the neck, nor the black patch in front, but the feathers on 
her breast are strono^ly marked with a small dark spot on 
each side of the lio-ht straw-coloured shaft. 

Young- birds resemble the female ; the black patch on 
the neck of the males is not assumed until their second 
moult. The entire length of the full-ii-rown Quail is 



seven nic 



•heS)X 



-n-^N:^^- 




as»is»-— B»^B 




'/ 



"^ 




MERLIN.. 

(J Scale.) 



X 



THE MERLIN, 

Fa (CO (csfdoH. 




LTHOUGH the Meilm is the 
smallest of the British falcons 
proper, it possesses as much 
indoniitabje pluck as any of 
the larg-er members of the 
family; indeed, the freedom 
and audacity it evinces in 
attacking birds of a superior 
size to itself, is even a more 
noticeable characteristic in 
the IVIerlin than in the other 
falcons. In common with 
the Pere gri ne, this bird was 
much used in falconry, and 
was considered, especially in 
connection with partridges, 
to show very excellent sport 
indeed, strikmg them down 
with unerring' accuracy. The 
Merlin captures its prey either 
on the ground or whilst fly- 
ing, and will frequently select 
a victim from a flock of small 
birds, and follow it in the 



M. 



98 



FAMILIAR WILT) BIRDS. 



most undeviating way, until the fugitive fairly succumbs 
from terror and exhaustion. 

The Merlin is a partially niigratory;Jjird, Ihong-h it is 
fairly distributed througliout most_portions of the globe. 
In Great Britain it breeds in the north of England and 
Scotland, and is of course more commonly met with in 
those localities than in the south ; though in the unculti- 
vated parts of Sussex it is frequently seen. In the latter 
place specimens are frequently seen during migration, in 
the spring and autumn. It seems to be in a large 
degree indifferent to climate, and is said to be found 
sometimes as far north as the arctic circle. Tliis 
bird feeds principally upon partridges, plovers, pigeons, 
starlings, snipes, sandpipers, blackbirds, thrushes, and any 
of the smaljer birds ; cockchafers, beetles, and other insects 
are also said to be sometimes eaten by it. The nest is 
usually placed on the ground on some Jheath or open 
moor, or in a clump of heathei', and sometimes in the 
sides of a ravine. No great caj'e is bestowed on the con- 
struction of its nest, a few ^icks, with a litUe heather, 
grass, or moss, being generally deemed sufficient. Some- 
times, however, the ISIerUn is sikl to select a tree for nest- 
ing purposes, and then the nest is jnade with sticks and 
lined with wool and moss. 

Three, fouj;^ and occasionally five eggs are laid, of a 
bluish-white colour, blotched, particularly at the thicker 
ends, with deep reddish-brown or greenish-brown marks ; 
but many varieties in the appearance of the eggs are met 
with. 

The parent birds are very devoted to their young, and 
unless disturbed the female sits very closely, the male 
watching from some neighbouring elevation^ and uttering 



THE jVEELiy^ 99 

a slirill warning cry at the approach of danger. The flight 
of this handsome litlle falcon is rapid and graceful; it 
usually flies low, and skniis over the open ground without 
any apparent effort. 

The Merlin does not pursue the tactics of the laro-er 
falcons when seeking to secure a meaj. It very seldom 
rises above its pre^ to swoop down upon it, but simply 
chase£^ it,, following every double, ^^^jst, and turn of the 
flying quarry with a pers^tency and ardour that almost 
invariably meets with success. 

There is not the disparity between the relative sizes of the 
sexes when young which may be noticed in the Falconidte 
generally, but the female has a trifling advantage. 

The le ngth of the Mer[in seldom exceeds twelve inches ; 
iris dark brown ; forehead and sides of the head greyish- 
white, the latter lined with black; over the ej^e is a light 
band, margined beneath with black ; neck dull yellowish- 
red, with a ring of reddish-brown, sjjotted or streaked with 
black ; a few black streaks descend from the corners of 
the beak ; chin and throat white or greyish-white ; breast 
dull yellowish-red ; back deep greyish-blue, growing lighter 
towards the tail, the feathers being streaked in the centre 
-with black ; greater and lesser wing-coverts are bluish- 
grey; under wing-coverts yellowish-white, or white, with 
dusky spots and streaks ; the tail is bluish-grey, with 
dark bands and tipped with white ; it is about five inches 
long; legs yellow, and feathered about one-third down; 
toes yellow, claws black. The plumage of the female 
varies from that of the male, being of a more uniform 
appearance ; but assumes more resemblance to the male as 
the bird grows older. When first hatched the young are 
covered with a soft whitish down ; after leaving the nest 



100, 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



thev make a harsh screaming- iKjise, especially if captured, 
when the parents join in the chorus with considerable 
vigonr. When tully llcilg-ed, the young' Ijirds resendile the 
female most, but they are generally much lighter in colour. 
In confinement they soon become very tame and familiar, 
but seldom attain to any advanced age. 

In some parts of Great Britain the jMerlin is cidled the 
Stone Falcon — a name probably suggested by the li;d_>it the 
bird has of perching on large stones and rocks. 

It is said to be commonly met with in Denmark, 
Sweden, Norway and other European countries^X 




^-»*.'- 



^ 











DOTTEREU 



K 



THE DOTTEREL. 



Chanidrius uwriiiclUoi. 




HE Dotterel, or as it is fre- 
quently called, the Dotterel 
Plover, although by no means 
a rare bird, is not so 
thoroughly distributed over 
Great Britain as a great 
many others. In Dorsetshire 
and Devonshire its visits are 
of extreme rarity, whilst in 
Cornwall only one or two 
instances are recoi-ded of its 
being ^met with. The Dot- 
terel" is a native of Europe, 
being found in nearly all the 
countries of this continent, 
and it is also said to be met 
with in Northern Asia, 
Persia, and Tartary. With 
us the Dotterel is a summer 
visitor only, arriving about 
x\pril on our south-eastern 
coasts, whence it passes on- 
wards to tlio high grounds 
of Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, 



102 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

Yorkshire, Lancashire, Westmoreland, Northumberland, 
and various parts ot" Scotland. The Soutlidowns of 
Sussex are also _favourite resorts of the Dotterel, and upon 
certain hills lying" between Lewes and l^riijhton flocks of 
these birds may be met with every year with almost unfail- 
ing regularity. As feeding-places it loves the high grounds, 
downs, and moors, and is most commonly met with on the 
fallow land and newly-ploughed fields that fringe the higher 
parts of the downs and elevated portions of the country. 
The food consists of worms, grubs, sliigs, and insects. 

When the birds arrive at the more northerly 
localities above mentioned they usually frequent the 
fallows and heaths for about a week, and then seek the 
moss-covered mountains, which they select as breeding 
places; and they seem to favour those particular localities 
which are frequently obscured by the drenching rain and 
mists. During incubation the Dotterel is generally to l)e 
found in company with others of the same species, several 
pairs appearing to live together in perfect harmony. The 
nest is nothing more than a hole in the ground covered 
with vegetation, and generally nc^r some stoiie or rock. 
Three eggs are commonly laid ; they are of a yellowish- 
olive colour, with sp()ts and markings of dark brownish- 
black, and about an inch and three-quarters in length. 

During the breeding season the Dotterel is much more 
wary and timid than at any other time, its ordinary 
characteristic being what may be called dowm-ight stu- 
]>idity. So indifferent are these birJs to danger, that when 
one of their number has been shot the remainder of the 
Hock will fly only a little distance, and soon return to their 
original feeding-place, even though the spr.rtsman, gun in 
hand, is waiting further to reduce their munbors. An 



TEE DOTTEREL. 103 

entire flock has been secured in this way with little or no 
trouble. 

The Dotterel runs and flies easily and with a quick 
active movement, and is fond of dusting itself. The note 
is soft and low, and has been compared to that of the 
common^ linnet, while some naturalists have likened the 
sounds to the words "durr/-" " droo.-*^ The bird beloiigsto 
the Grallatorial family, and is much esteemed as an article 
of delicate eating-. Large numbers of them used also to 
be killed in the Lake districts for the sake of their wing 
feathers, which are highly esteemed among anglers as 
artificial fly-dressing. 

Before leaving this country Dotterels congregate in 
large flocks, and remain thus together until their actual 
departure, which usually occurs about September ; some, 
however, have been known to remain until October. 

The beak of the Dotterel is short, nearly black ; the top 
of the head and nape of the neck dark brown, bounded on 
the sides and behind by a band of white ; ear-coverts, neck 
and back, ash colour; scapulars, wing-coverts, and tertials, 
ash-brown edged with buff; wing primaries ash-grey, the 
first with a broad white shaft; taif greyish-brown, the 
middle feathers tipped with dull white, and the outside 
feathers with broad ends of pure white, front and sides of 
neck ash-grey ; across the breast is a band of white, 
margined above and below with a dark line ; breast is a 
rich fawn colour, blending into chestnut ; belly, black ; 
vent and under tail-coverts white tinged with buff; under- 
neath the wings are greyish-white ; the legs and toes are 
greenish-yellow, and the claws black. The bijxl measures 
al>out nine and a half inches, and usually weighs about 
four or five ounces. In the female the plumage is not so 



104 



FAMILIAR WILD IlIRDS. 



handsome^ the markino-s being- paler and not so distinct, 
and the feathers on the breast are brown. 

In relation to the eonfiding nature of tiiis bird, it 
may be remarked that its name vtorinellKn literally 
means ''a little fool/' about as uncomplimentary a title, 
perhaps, ns any bestowed upon any member of the feathered 
tribes. An old idea concerning- the bird was that it imi- 
tated the movements of the s[)ort4?man or fowler, and ^Ir. 
Yarrell, in his description of the Dotterel, quotes a passag-e 
from Drayton to this eifect '•—\)(^ 

A " Xhe Uottert'l, whitli we think a very dainty dijsli, 

Whose taking makes sucli si)ort, as no man more can wisli, 

For as you creep, or cower, or lie, or stoop, or go, 

So marking you with care, the apish hird doth do ; 

And acting ever\ thing, doth never mark the net, 

Vill he he in the snare which men for liim have set. "J 




M^ /^ 



O' 







I 



ROCK DOVE^ 
(? Scale.) 



X 



THE EOCK DOVE, 

Columha livia. 




HE Rock Dove derives its name 
from the character of the 
localities in wliich it princi- 
])ally abouudsj and which jive 
almost invariably of a rocky 
nature. The cliffs of the 
Scottish coast; and the York- 
shire cliffs of Flamboroug-h 
and Sjieetonj may be men- 
tioned as places where these 
birds may be found in great 
abundance^ but, indeed, al- 
most everywhere th^t the 
coast offers a secure home 
and shelter the Rock Dove 
may be, said to be at home 
in greater or less numbers. 

Denmark, Norway, Swe- 
den, the islands of the Medi- 
terranean, North Africa and 
Teneriffe are spoken of as the 
homes of these birds, and in 
Great Britain the eastern and 
western coasts of the more 



N. 



106 FAMILIAR li'ILI) BIRDS. 

northerly counties afford convenient retreats for one of the 
most widely distributed of the pigeon family. 

The Ruck Dove is undoubtedly the founder of the 
almost numberless varieties of tame pig-eons with Avhich 
our poultry -yards abound. In spealc.ing' of this fact, Morris 
observes, " If you look;_at each and every oiie of the pii^ns 
that fly about the barn and fold-yard, or ris e in a flo ck 
from the open Held, or are huno- up in the poulterer's shop 
in the narrowest streets of London, you wnll see that almost 
every individual bird, let the varied colours of its i)lumag"e 
be what they may, has a patch of white over the tail. This 
will at once show you that it must derive its origin from 
the species at present before us, and not, as naturally might 
be sui)posed, from the common wild i)igeon of the woods. '^ 

The leiio-th of the Rock Dove is about thirtegn Jnches ; 
bill dullish-brown slightly tinged with yellow, much flat- 
tened about the middle. Iris, pale orange; head, crown, 
and back of neck, bluish-grey ; sides of neck beautifully 
glossed with sheeny reflections of purply-red and green ; 
chin, bluish-grey ; throat, purple and green according to 
the light ; breast and back, light bluish-grey, and white 
on the rump. 

The wings measure twenty-five or twenty-six inches 
when expanded; they are of a dull bluish-grey, with two 
conspicuous bands of black; under wing-coverts are white. 
The tail is bluish-grey, tipped at the end with a band ot 
black about an inch in dei)tli. The legs and toes are red 
and scaled on the front and upper parts; claws, a brownish- 
black. The female is less bright in colour than the male, 
and the bands on wings and tail are browner, but the sexes 
are not easily distinguished. The feathers are very loosely 
set, and are easily pulled out. 



THE ROCK BOVE^ 107 

111 the matter of food the Rock Dove is almost a vege- 
tarian, its diet consisting mostly of peas, oats, barley, 
\vheat> and various other grains and seeds. It, however, 
exhibits a marked j^artiality for the most_ valuable crops, 
and the depredation committed in some localities by these 
birds is very serious, as they feed rapidly and continuously, 
and travel considerable distances in search of their favourite 
food. As may be imagined, the farmers and market- 
gardeners patronised by them regard them with great 
animosity, and destroy them whenever and wherever an 
opportunity offers. Some idea of the amount of grain con- 
sumed by them may be formed from the fact that t\yo 
specimens examined by Mr. Macgillivray contained, the 
one over a thousand grains, and the other, five hundred 
and ten. 

The flight is strong and rapid, and a loud cracking 
noise is produced by the wings. When on the ground 
they walk with an easy movement, nodding the head to 
and fro as they proceed. They feed in flocks varying in 
number, and when alarmed the whole party rises simultane- 
ously with the loud flapping noise already spoken of. In 
leaving their homes for a foraging expedition, and in re- 
turning at evening, the flight is straightforward, and just 
high enough to clear any intervening obstacles. 

In the winter and spring these birds assemble in pro- 
digious flocks, and are then bolder and more easy of ap- 
proach than during the summer. They roost in the holes 
and eaves of rocks, and occasionally in old buildings or 
towers. Like other birds of the pigeon family, the Rock 
Dove is fond of water, and takes great delight in bathing, 
also in dusting itself. The note is a " Coo-roo-coo," the 
last syllable being prolonged. The nests are commonly 



108 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



found in companies or colonies, in some cav'ern or similar 
retreat, where they lijk[e upon amicable terms one with 
another. Dry sticks and twi^s with bents of hay or stalks 
are roug-hly laid together, and two egg^s laid thereon ; they 
are smooth and white. The male is very assiduous to his 
mate during sitting-.time, and remains close to the nest at 
night. When first hatched the young birds are covered 
with a soft yellow down. The liock Dove seldom perches 
upon trees, but rests at times on sonie eleyated and isolated 
spot whence a clear survey can be obtained of the immediate 
neighbourhood. It is genenilly considered that these birds 
pair for life; at any rate, they are extremely attached to 
their partners, and their grief and distress when separated 
is so marked as to have become proverbial. 

If taken when young they soon become tame and 
familiar, and att;iin a eonsiderable age. 





LO 



# 





■ ^-i. 



SANDERLING. 
(2 Scale.) 



X 



THE SANDEELING, 



CharadriuH caUidris. 
t'aUldris arcnaria. 




LTHOUGH by nojneans a 
common bird, the Sanderling' 
is tolerably well distributed 
oyer the coa^s of Great 
Britain and Ireland ; and in 
spring, summer, and autumn 
may be found upon most of 
our low sandy shores and 
tidal^rivers. 

It is an active sprightly 
bird, searching for its food 
either in small parties, or 
asso ciate d with Dunlins, 
Dotterels, or other ^irds of 
simjlar habits. But the 
seashore and banks of tidal 
rivers are not the only re- 
sorts of the Sanderling, as in 
the summer months it may 
frequently be seen many 
miles from the coast, on the 
sides of muddy ditches, or 
moi-e commonly running 
along the edges of ponds. 



110. FAMILIAR WILD lilRDS., 

lakes^ and any large inland sheets of water, as with other 
members of the family. 

In speiildng of the feeding habits of this bird, a_ well- 
known ornitjiolog-ist obsei-ves, " The Sanderl in g Stains its 
food pririeri)al]y by probiiig the moist_saiids of the seashore 
with its bijl held in an obli(£ue direction. At every step it 
inserts this instrnmentwith snrprising qniekness,to a greater 
or less depth, aceording to the softness of the sand ; some- 
times introdncing it a qnarter of an incli, sometimes to the 
base. The holes thus made may be seen on the borders of 
beaches, when the tide is fast receding, in rows of twenty, 
thirty, or more; in certain spots less numerous: for it 
:i)i])ears that when a place is un})roductive of the food for 
which they are searching, they very soon take to their 
wings and remove to another, now and then in so hurried a 
manner that one might suppose they had been suddenly 
frightened. The contents of the stomach of those jhot 
while thus occupied were slender sea^vi^orms, minute shell- 
fish, and gravel. At other times, when they were seen lol- 
lowijig- the receding waves, and wading up to the belly in 
the returning waters, the stomachs contained small_shrimps 
and otjier Crustacea." Other writers have observed it 
feeding on the buds of the Saxifrage. 

The Sanderling runs very rapidly, and flies with ease 
and swiftness; when alarmed, the birds, when in flocks, 
generally proceed to some fresh feeding spot at no very 
great distance; Imt when disturbed in verv small parties 
they not nneomnionly take to llight and fly for some con- 
siderable distance before settling. As already stated, 
Sanderlings frccpiently associate with small companies of 
Dunlins, &('. ; but they may be easily distinguished from 
their c(.mpanions by the prominent lightness of their 



THE SANBERLIAG^ 111 

plumage^ and the continuous wlaistling cry uttered during 
flight. 

The Sanderling breeds in the far norths and in mucii 
higheHatitudes than any part of Great Britain. The coasts 
of Hudson's Bay^ Greenland, and Lajjrador have been 
mentioned by natm-alists as amongst the favourite breeding- 
places of this bird. Cajitain Fielden found a Sanderling^'s 
nest in the month of June^ ^l876 , on the slwres of the 
Frozen Ocean ; this nest contained twq^ eggs, and as the 
mjile bird was killed at the nest, it would ap^iear that 
both sexes assist in the process of incubation. 

The nest is placed on the ground, and is some\vhat 
ronghly built of dried grass; the eo-gs number about four, 
and are of a dusky colour, spotted wath black, most of the 
markings being on the larger end. 

Only one brood apjiears to be reared during the 
yeai', ])ut this is not absolutely certain. 

In summer the male Sanderling has the beak black ; 
irides brown ; feathers on the top of the head and back of 
the neck black in the centre, with a rufous edging; back 
and rump black ; wings blackish, with markings of red- 
dish-grey and greyish-white ; chin, throat, sides of the 
neck, and upper part of the breast covered with small spots 
of rufous and black on a white ground ; the whole under- 
surface of the body is pure white ; tail greyish-black in 
centre, and the outer feathers greyish-white ; legs, toes, 
and claws black. 

In winter the bird is much lighter in appearance ; the 
plumage of all the upper parts is a very light ash-grey, 
with a dark streak in the centre of each feather ; the tail is 
ash-colour, edged with white ; chin, throat, and remaining 
portions the same as in summer. 



112 



FAMILIAR Wilt) BIRDS. 



In spring' the plumage is even prettier, the feathers on 
the ])ack boint;' all centred with black, and the front of the 
neck spocdvk'd. 

'J'hcre is not much^ifference in the plumage of the male 
and rcnudc, Init the latter are somewhat larger, and in the 
summer lighter in colonr. 

The Sand(;rling is found in nearly all the Arctic regions, 
and has been met with on the Black Sea, France, It-iily, Hol- 
land, South Africa, Japan, and Sunda.J )( 




{ 



±^'<^^^^ v<{ t' 






7-^ - 



, - ^ 




i 



LONG-TAILED TIT, 
a Scale; 



X 



THE LONG-TAILED TIT. 



J'linis crn(d/ii/is. 




":^HE Long-tailed Tit, or, as it 
is very frequently called, 
the " Eotjtle Tit,'' as will be 
seen by a glance at the illus- 
tration, is diminutive in its 
size and peculiar in its ap- 
pearance. Dr. Lea ch and 
many other naturalists have 
hesij:ated to regard this little 
bird as belong-ing to the 
true Tjts ; and Mr. Yarrell 
thus points out the dif- 
ferences that suggested the 
separation : — ■ " The five 
species of T_its (viz., the Blue, 
the Crested, the Coje, the 
jNIarsh, and the Great Tit) 
have short tails, almost even 
or square at the end, the 
feathers being nearly of uni- 
form length ; legs, toes, and 
claws rather short and 
strong ; their nests are 
loosely put together, gener- 



114 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

ally placed in holes in walls or trees, and the birds are 
almost omnivorous in rel'erence to food. The Long- 
tailed Tit, on the contrary, as its name implies, has the tail 
long and graduated; three pairs of the tail-feathers not 
only differing from each other in length, but all of them 
also shorter than the other three pairs ; the legs and toes 
rather long and slender ; the nest of the most perfect kind, 
oval in shape, domed at the top, with a small hole at the 
npper part of one side, by which access is gained to the 
chamber within ; the nest is generally fixed in the midst of 
a thick bush ; and the bird is more decidedly insectivorous." 

This bi^d is found more or less frequently iji all t he 
wooded districts of this country. In the southern and 
western counties of England, from Sussex to Cornwall, it 
is common, frecpiejiting plantations, shrubberies, and 
hedgerows , where the trees are tall, and also gai<leiis 
and orchards. The foj)d consists almost exclusively of 
various insects^ and their larvae, for which the bh;^ds search 
with considerable persistence and activity. 

The nest, to which allusion has already been made, is a 
perfect specimen of ingenuity and care, and is in all 
probability the most admirable example of bird archi- 
tecture to be found in this country. The writer has 
examined some which seemed really marvellous in thdr 
strength, conifort, and appearance; the outside is fre- 
quently adorned with scraps of briglitrcoloured lichen and 
moss, and the interior thoroughly lined with do_\yn and sf)ft 
feathers. The number of eggs varies ; ten or twelve are 
commonly laid, but occasionally even m_ore : they are 
small, white, and marked with a few faint sjiccks of red ; 
often, however, they are plain white. During the first 
autumn and winter the entire family keep together. The 



THE lOXG-TAILEL TIT^ 115 

usual note is a shai'p cliir2^ or twitter, varied by lower and 
hoarser notes. At times these twitterings are very loud 
and shrill, and at other times so feeble as to be almost 
inaudible. When searching- for food these little birds 
assume the most peculiar attitudes, often being engaged 
with the head downwards, their long tails giving them 
a somewhat grotesque appearance. 

Their movements are full of sprightliness and gaiety, 
and well repay any watching or observation. The flight is 
not very strong, and is undulatory in its character. 

A well-known naturalist states that he has observed 
these little birds, when insects on the branches were few 
and far between, making very persistent efforts to feed 
upon the gnats that were swarming in the sunshine ; but 
he adds that they seemed to be very indifferent fly-catchers. 

The Long-tailed Tit is said to be a permanent resident 
in Sweden, Russia, Holland, and many other European 
countries. It remains in Great Britain and Ireland 
throughout the entire year. 

The beak is black ; the irides hazel ; the top of the 
head, nape, and cheeks greyish- white j over the eye, and 
descending thence over the ear-coverts, is a narrow 
black stripe (this mark is broader in the females, and said 
sometimes to be entirely wanting in old males) ; on the 
upper part of the back a triangular patch of black, one 
point of which is directed downwards ; the shoulders, 
scapularies, and part of the rump tinged with rose-red ; 
wing-coverts black ; primaries gi-eyish-black ; tertials 
broadly edged with white ; upper tail-coverts black ; the 
three pairs of central tail-feathers very long and black ; the 
next three pairs eacli half an inch shorter than the feather 
on the same side which precedes it, and all six are black on 



116 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



the inner web, and white on the outer ; the under surface 
of the body g-reyish-white ; the sides, Hanks, and under 
tail-eovei'ts ting-ed with rose colour; legs, toes, and claws 
almost black. The length of the l)ird is ab nut five inches 
and a half. 

The females have mure black about the heail, the 
band on the ua])e and head bi'ing broader, Init in other 
respects the plumage resembles that of the males. 

In the young- birds the tail-feathers are of variable 
lengths during growth, and the marking's are less distinct 
and pure than in adults^X 





—- w. 




LITTLE AUK, 

{] Scale.) 



THE LITTLE AUK:., 

Alca ulh', 
MeryHlnn niehoioleucos. 





HE Little Auk, or, as it is 
more faimTiarly called, the 
Common Rotche, is a winter 
visitor only, and is seldom 
seen farther south than the 
islands of Orkney and Shet- 
land. Occasionally, during 
very severe and protracted 
gales, these birds are com- 
pelled to forsake the open 
sea and take refuge on those 
parts of the coast where 
shelter and protection may 
be found. At these times 
they are shot with little 
difficulty. Nunierous in- 
stances are recorded of the 
Little Auk being found on 
various parts of our coasts, 
and sometimes in large 
uuml)ers ; but as soon as the 
severity of the weather had 
abated the birds invari- 
ably disappeared ; they have 



118 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

also been picked up, dead or exhausted, iu lociilities far 
distant from the sea, where they had l^een driven h^ the 
violence of the winds. 

The Little Auk is of truly oceanic habits ; in its food 
and j^eneral methods of hfe it closely resembles the 
Guillemots, passing its time (except at the breeding sea- 
sons) upon the sea, searching for its food, which is su pposed 
to consist almost entirely of the smaller Crustacea. 

This bird breeds in the most northern of the Faroe 
Islands, and, according to some naturalists, in Iceland. The 
eggs are of a unijorm pale blue colour, not dissimilar to 
those of the starling ; the length is about one inch and 
seven lines, and the breadth one inch and one line. Natur- 
alists are divided in opinion as to the number of eggs hiid 
by the Little Auk, some saying that two are laid, arid 
others affirming that the number never exceeds one. Froni 
the most recent observations the latter is most pr oba bly 
correct. 

Dr. Hayes thus describes his visit to a great breeding- 
place of the Little Auk on the Greenland coast of Smith's 
Sound. The slopes on both sides of the valley were about 
a mile wide, and consisted of piles of loose rocks. Along 
these slopes the Little Auks flew in a constant stream a 
few feet above the stones, occasionally alighting in 
thousands on the rocks, .under which their eggs were 
deposited, and in the winding narrow passages. The 
]^]s([uimaux in this valley eat great numbers of these birds, 
which they catch in a very ingenious manner. Armed 
with a net attached to a long pole they conceal themselves 
among the rocks, and often catch half-a-dozen birds at a 
time by suddenly raising the net at the moment the flock 
is passing over their heads. Dr. Hayes saw more than 



TEE LITTLE AUK., 119 

a hundred birds caught in this manner in a very short 
time. 

In his " Memoir on the Birds of Greenland " Colonel 
Sabine has some interesting observations about this 
bird; he says, ''This sj^eeies was abundant in Baffin^s 
Bay and Davis Straits; and in latitude 76" was so nu- 
merous in the channels of water separating fields of ice that 
many hundreds were killed daily, and the ship's company 
supplied with them. The whole of the birds in the breed- 
ing season, the sexes being alike, had the under part of the 
neck a uniform sooty-black, terminating abruptly and in 
an even line against the white of the belly ; the young 
birds, which we saw in all stages from the es;g, as soon as 
they were feathered, were marked exactly as the mature 
birds ; but in ihe third week in Sejjtember, when we were 
on our passage down the American coast, every specimen, 
whether old or young, was observed to be in change ; 
and in the course of a few days the entire feathers of the 
throat and cheeks and of the under part of the neck had 
become white. ""^ 

In the adult bird the beak is black ; shorter than the 
head, and thick and broad at the base; the nostrils are 
partly covered with small feathers; the irides hazel, with a 
small white spot over the eye ; the head, hind part of neck, 
back, wings, and tail black, but the ends of the secondaries 
and the sides of the tertials are margined with white ; the 
colour of the chin, throat, and neck in front depend on the 
season, being black in summer and white in winter, but 
mottled with black and white in the spring and autumn ; 
the under surface of the body white ; legs and toes yellowish- 
brown, the membranes between the toes darker brown. 
The wings and tail are short, and the legs have a very 



1» 



ir*witnnurt WMJf- a^EJf/fi. 



<fiffiifflfmiBt ini gfe agygMan' 

Itflai. 'Kb' -"- 
HifrlLjir 







"fir 9 ^ 



120 



FAMILIAR in 1. 1) ItlEDS. 



backward position. The Little^ Auk is a vcjx small bird, 
beino- scarcely half the weight of the Puffin. There is no 
difTerence in the appearance of the sexes. 

The yomuj birds^ of the year^, accordin^;^ to Temniinck, 
may be distinguished by having- the chedvs shaded with 
grey. When in down they are uniform sooty brownish 
black. The entire length is about eight inches ar.d a half. 

The Little Auk is fomid as far north as Nova Zembla, 
Spit/Aiergen, and Green land jX 




\ ffSf^ 



Qfrf// ^ 




./ 



'"^ y^.. ,9^^^"^^. 




«?*»■'■ 




^i^^5?^.^. 



COMMON GULL, 
(i Scale.) 



X 



THE COMMON GULL. 



Lams can IIS. 





LTHOTIGH termed the " Com- 
mon " Gull, this species is 
not more ^ommoii than the 
Hemjig- and Blaekheaded 
Gulls, and may have been by 
many associated with those 
birds in the common appella- 
tion '' Gull/^ 

Gulls are amongst the 
prettiest adjiincts tea sea-side 
watering-place; yet many 
thoughtless visitors will make 
so-called sport in the wilful 
shooting of these handsome 
birds. But to see them Hy- 
ing around, or skimming the 
water whilst in pursuit of 
food, uttering their squealing 
cry to one another meanwhile, 
with possibly a shoal of fish 
beneath and a lovely sky 
above, is one of the most in- 
teresting sights to be seen 
at the " sea-side/^ 

Their flight is heavy, ye^ 



122 FAMILIAR JflLfJ BIRDS. 

capable of very considerable extension, as these birds fly 
many miles whilst in pnrsuit of their food. This they t_ake 
in^an intrenious manner, almost settling upon the water in 
order to secure it. 

When restinj^ after a lons^ flight, or under any other 
circumstances, they will sleej) upon the water. Whilst 
swimminj:^ they seem to place ordinary waves and breakers 
at deflance, and thong'h seemingly unconcerned, manage 
at such times to ride or fly over them; 

The Common (Jull frecpients the whole of the coast 
of the Britisli^ Isles, and may be found, together with the 
other Gulls, upon the coast of Cornwall, around Portland 
Bill, Beachy_}Iead, and the othei;^ cliffs of the south coast, 
off Mersey Island, in Essex, around the east coast to the 
" Bass " Rock, along the shores of Pentland, and, indeed, 
more or less throughout the coasts. 

But these Gulls, unlike many of their tribe,will also be 
found inland. They will even follow the plough, in quest of 
the worms and grubs turned uj) l)y it. They will also follow 
the course of rivers for many miles. Sometimes a flock of 
them may be seen in meadows or grass lands after the 
manner of rooks, the rear ones flying over the rest of the 
flock as the ground becomes thoroughly searched, until they 
work from one end (tf the Held to the other. Their beau- 
■ tiful grey and white j)luniage at such times forms a re- 
markable contrast to the green grass, and is altogether an 
interesting and beautiful sight. 

These l)irds are gregarious, living generally in such 
localities as afford convenient feeding-grounds and nesting- 
places. These latter, however, are very erratic, as they are 
sometimes situated in chalk and other cliffs or rocks, and 
again ujxm flat marshy grounds. The nest is built chiefly 



THE COMMON GULL, 123 

of sticks, seaweed, and grass, and is a somewhat large one, 
in comparison with the size of the bird. The eggs are but 
two or three in number, of a dark olive-brown, blotched 
and spotted with black and dai;ker brown. 

The young differ materially from the aged birds, the 
plumage altering with age. The head and neck of the bird 
of the year is dull white, mottled with greyish-brown ; the 
wings and back are brownish-ash colour, mottled By the 
feathers being edged with a paler bi-own, whilst a few 
bluish-grey feathers may sometimes be found upon the 
back ; the longer feathers of the wing are brown ; the tail 
is white, the feathers having* the outer half brown ; the 
chin and throat are white ; the breast and under parts are 
also white, much mottled with light ash-brown. At this 
period they are often termed " Grey Gulls. ^' By succes- 
sive moultings, however, this plumage materially alters, 
the bird depicted in the plate being a partially-moulted 
one, showing some of the young feathers upon the shoulders, 
which would, however, vanish with age, until the jilumage 
of the bird becomes a beautiful bluish-grey and white. In 
winter, however, the head and the sides of the neck, which 
are white in summer, become spotted with dusky ash-brown. 
In consequence of these many varieties of plumage, Com- 
mon Gulls are somewhat lilvc the coffee-plant, and may be 
seen at the same season in all these various featherings, for 
they generally feed together, their call-note (which sounds 
like " squeal ") being the signal for them to gather, and 
generally to fight over the possession of any food that 
attracts them. Their food is principally fish and offal, 
or any garbage that may be found floating upon the sea. 
When they Jly injand, which is often at a considerable 
hei g ht, their food is generally worms, grubs, and slugs, 



124 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

and tliey will even feed upon grain, sonie that were kept 
with cli])ped wings having been induced to feed mainly 
upon jt. When upon the marshy inland districts, however, 
worms and slugs are their most general food. 

Their flight, though strong and ca])able of being sus- 
tained for an immense distance, is dull and heavy, except 
when they swoop down upon some object of food upon the 
water*; their wings, however, are exceptionally l<jng, in 
comparison to the size of their bodies. 

If ke})t with clii)ped wings and alhmed the freedom of 
the lawn and gaixlen, a Gull is a " thing of beauty" which 
would always be attractive, and being so easily fed will 
n(jt occasion any trouble ; besides which^ they will also 
become very tame.j^ 



\ 



r 




L (r.i 




/ 



4iU/:-^ 





€l^/i^ 




SHORE LARK.. 
(£ iicale.) 



A 



THE SHORE LARK. 



Alauda alpcstris. 
Alaiida cornuta. 




T is a very regrettable circum- 
stance that the aj^pearances 
of the Shore Lark in this 
country should be so^ew and 
far between, as it is an active 
and sprightly bird, inter- 
esting in its habits, and 
handsome in plumage. In 
Mr. Morrises well-known 
work on " Birds " only four 
instances are enumerated in 
which it had been met with 
in Great Britain, but doubt- 
less, as with^many other song- 
sters of reputed rarity, its 
extr eme, scarc eness may 
more properly be attributed 
to the laxity of oraitholo- 
gical observation than to 
actual fact. 

The Shore Lark may J^e 
met with almost every year in 
the neighbourhood of Brigh- 
tcUj also about Dover, and 



126 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

some parts of No^Tolk; and Very i)robab]y it visits several 
other localities with more or less re*^ularity that have 
hitherto escaped the cognisance' of the naturalist, liut be 
this as it may, it cannot be denied that the bird is rarer iind 
much mure sparinj^-ly distributed than could be wished. 

The Shore^Lark is found in the laro*^i numbers in 
North America, es])ecially on the colder shores, and it is 
also siiicl to be seen in the northern parts of Europe and 
Asiii. According" to Temminek, it breeds in Holland, and 
remains in that country throug^hout the entire year. 
The bird is hardy in its constitution, and although 

compiled by severe weather to move southward in 

search of milder quarters, as soon as the summer appears 
it immediately retraces its steps towards the cold and 
barren coasts of the far North. 

Its mig-ration, if it may be so called, is generally 
accomplished in small com])anies, and the birds do not 
undertake long journeys at a time, but straggle, as it 
were, from one place to another as the exigencies of the 
weather may necessitate. 

The Shore Lark is somewhat shy in its halnts, ex- 
cept during incubation, at which time tlie bird becomes 
bolder. After the brood is hatched it evinces great 
anxiety and solicitude for its offspring. The parent is 
said to be quite an expert in the various ruses adoj^ted 
by many birds for decoying intruders from the nest, 
fluttering along the ground with assumed lameness, and 
continually uttering a low plaintive cry. 

The nest is always placed upon the ground, and is not 
easily discovered, as the materials used in its construction 
are of the same colour and appearance as the surrounding 
ground; it is circular in shaj)e and Iniilt of fine grass. Four 



TEE SHORE LARK. 127 

or five eggs are usually laid, which are of a gi*exi?if^3^^^^®» 
with_spots of palish-blue and brown. Mr. Audubon says 
that wlieii the youngs bu'ds are hat^ied, or rather when 
they are_ fledged, and before they are able to fly strongly, 
they leave the nest and follow their parents on the ground, 
separating when pursued, and each one endeavouring to 
conceal itself in the mossy herbage that surrounds their 
home. On these occasions the young birds make use of 
their wings to help them iu their progress, and succeed in 
making themselves scarce with wonderful celerity. If pur- 
sued for any length of time the old birds follow the in- 
truder overhead, loudly protesting against and lamenting 
the proceedings. 

It has been already^ stated that the Shoi'e Lark is said 
to breed in Holland, but the favourite nesting-places of 
this bird are to be found in the roeivy sterile regions of the 
North, particularly where broad barren tracts of rocky land 
extend inland from the coast, and where moss, lichen, and 
scanty growths of grass are the only signs of vegetation. 
y: The length is about seven inches ; the bill is bluish, 
and black at the tip. The iris is dark brown ; there is a 
yellow streak over it, and the nostrils are protected with 
a few bristly feathers. From the base of the bill a streak 
of black passes to the eye and spreads out behind it. The 
forehead is yellow, changing after the autumnal moult to 
a greenish-ash colour ; o\\ the front of the crown there is 
a broad black band, ending on each side with a few long 
pointed feathers which the bird raises and depresses at 
pleasure ; the back of the head black ; crown, greyish- 
brown. Back of neck greyish-brown, tinged with red; 
chin, throat, and sides of neck a beautiful pale yellow, 
>yhite in summer ; breast a pale yellow, with a collar of 



128 



FAMILIAR TV 1 1 1) BIRDS. 



black across the upi)er jiart, turning- in the winter to a 
dusky-brown ; the lower part of the breast dull white, 
juid towards the sides reddish-brown. AVin^-s daj'k- 
brown with niarking-s of reddish-bnnvn and white. Tail 
black, the outer feather on each side bein<^ j)artly white, 
njtper tail-coverts brown ; lower ones, dull white. The 
l('u;s, toes, and claws are bluish-black ; the hind claw is 
lono-er than the toe, and very nearly straii^ht. 

The female is Dotcj.uite so larg-e as the male. 'V\\c streak 
over the eye is ])ale yellow ; the band across the breast 
is brownish-black fringed with yellow, and the marking- 
of the ])lumag-e g-enerally is not so bright or well defined. 

The song of the Shore^Lark is vamble and sliort, but 
sweet in tone, and usually uttered when the bird is flying. 
Tiie bird is not at all difficult to keep in confinement, as 
a specimen that was eauglit near Brighton some time ag-o 
was ])laced in an aviary and lived there for more than five 
years^x: 




•••-^"3#- 








-"^^yi^f 



\ 





CAN NET. 
(J Scale.) 



X 



THE GANNET. 



Felecaniis hnssnniis. 
Sula bassana. 




HE Gaivnet, or Soland_Goose, 
is one of the largest birds in- 
habiting the coasts of Great 
Britain. It remains with 
us throughout the entire 
year, but shifts its locality 
according to the varying 
seasons. Enormous numbers 
of Gannets congregate at 
various well-known localities 
during the spring and 
autumn. The most noted 
breeding stations are Lundy 
Island (one ^)ot there being 
knojrvn as Gannet Cove), the 
Skellio^ Isles, the Isle of 
Ailsa, St. Kilda, in the 
Outer Hebrides, Souliskerry, 
near the Orkneys, and the 
famous Bass Rock, in the 
Firth of Forth. At these 
spots, at the seasons above 
indicated, Gannets may be 
seen in thousands. 



130 FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

Secl^ohm sa^'s, " The scene is a most impo siuo^ on e. 
Thousands of Gannets are sailing to and fro before the 
mighty cliffs ; every ])art of the rocks that can support a 
nest is crowded with birds ; birds are constantly coming to 
and leaving the cliffs; the harsh notes of (juarrclling 
(i;iiiiu'ts sound in all directions; whilst nuinljers are (o be 
seen sitting (juictly on the greensward on the top of the 
rocks, or fast asleep, with their bills and heads almost 
liitlcK'U amongst their dorsal ])lumage/' 

After the autumn, these birds move towards the 
southern jjarts of the coast, and are then seen, especially off 
the Cornish shores, in great abundance. 

The Gaunet feeds entirely upon fish, more especially 
upon those that swim near the surface of the water, such as 
spi^yts, pilchards, and herrmgs. The method in which it 
secures its food is quite different from that pursued by any 
other of our fish-eating birds. Mr. Couch (in his Fauna) 
observes that the Gannet, " traversing the air in all direc- 
tions, as soon as it discovers the fish it rises to such a 
height as experience shows best calculated to carry it by a 
downward motion to the required de])th ; and then partially 
closing its wings, it falls perpendicularly on its prey, and 
rarely without success ; the time between the i)lunge and 
immersion being about fifteen seconds." 

The (lannet is possessed oF very considerable powers of 
flight, and ranges over a large extent of sea in search of 
food, from one hundred to two hundred miles in a day 
being rreipiently (raversed. 

During the lishing season these birds bohlly a]q)roaeh 
the lishernien, and are frequently caught by becoming en- 
tangled in the nels. 

The nest of the Gannet is merely a large mass or 



THE GAXyET, 131 

collection of seaweed or grass ; only one egg is laid, which 
is about three inches in length and nearly two inches in 
breadth. The colour is a chalkj^- white, very slightly tinged 
with pale blue. It does not long retain its original colour, 
but soon becomes soiled and dirty. The young birds 
shortly after being hatched are covered with a white 
down; this grows very quickly, and gives the birds 
somewhat the appearance of large powder-puffs or lumps 
of cotton. 

Gannets are very quiet and easily approached during the 
time of incubation ; and in many ])laces, where they are not 
annoyed or interfered with, will allow themselves to be ap- 
proached and even handled without quitting the nest. 
Sometimes, however, they betray some irritation at being 
disturbed, and assume a threatening attitude by widely 
opening their beaks. 

The len_gth of this bird is about thirty-four inches ; the 
bill is of a horny greyish-white, serrated at the edg-es, very 
large at the base, and compressed towards the point; the 
angle of the gape extends beyond the line of the eye ; face 
and throat naked, the skin of the face being blue ; irides pale 
straw colour ; the head and neck buff colour ; all the rest of 
the plumage white, except the wing primaries, which are 
black ; the line of the bones of the legs and toes in 
front green, the remainder, with the membranes, nearly 
black. The tail is rather short and pointed, the centre 
feathers being the longest. 

In the young Gannet the beak is almost black ; the 
skin of the face bluish-black ; the general ])lurnage is black, 
varied with lines and triangular marks of white. This gives 
the bird a strong resemblance to the young of the Red- 
throated Diver. 



132 



FAMILIAR WIIJ) BIRDS. 



Tlie note of the Gaiinet is a harsh discordant croak, 
resembling the sylhibles carra often repeated, and modified 
in different ways, it is most usually heard durin<^ the 
breeding-- season or when the birds are fishing or disturbed. 

It is stated that the (iannet requires four years to arrive 
at maturity, and tiiat until the bird has attained this age it 
does not breed. 

They are easily kept in confinement if taken from the 
nestj and will become very tame, l)ut are very expensive to 
keep, as the quantity of tish they consume is something 
enormous, j y 




ru. 




/?UyUi.(4jWj.t', 




MARSH TIT. 

(f Scale* 



X THE MARSH TIT. 

Farus palustris. 
rarus atricapiUun. 




HIS pretty and sprightly little 
bird is to be found in Great 
Britain all^ through the year. 
It can scarcely be called a 
common variety, althoug-h it 
is tolerably well distributed 
over most parts of the 
country, without being- very 
numerous in any particular 
locality. It occurs with less 
frequency in Ireland and the 
north of Scotland than in 
any other jiortions of the 
kingdom. In differeiit dis- 
tricts the MarshJTit has had 
varjous titles bestowed on 
it, amongst which may be 
mentioned Smaller Oxeyc, 
Willow Biter, Joe Beiit, and 
Blaclv_Cap. 

Although generally known 
as the Marsh Tit, the bird is 
by no means an inhal)itant 
of wet or marshy places ; 



l^^i FA Ml LI A It in LI) BIRDS. 

true it is that it is frequently seen by the woody mavs^ins 
of streams or ponds, but it may also be noticed busily at 
work searching" for food in almost any situation where 
brushwood, co})scs, and low trees abound. 

The habits of the Marsh Tit correspond with tln^se of 
a]]^ the Titinice; sprightly in movement, unceasing- and 
unwearying in searching for food, this little bird seems to 
make the extermination of the various forms of insect life 
the great object of its existence ; and it may almost be 
taken for granted that wherever and whenever one is seen, 
it is on the hunt, either to satisfy its own wants or the 
requirements of its young family. During the time when 
the young birds are in the nest this activity is very notice- 
able and amusing, the visits paid by the parents to their 
progeny being {)er])etual. Of course an enormous number 
of insects are thus destroyed, and it is only just to add that 
the appetites of the young Titmice are at all times fully 
equal to the exertions of their parents. 

In winter these birds collect in small llcicks and roam 
about from place to i)lace as the supply of food n.ay 
diminish. In autumn also small companies of these little 
birds are frequently observed; but larel^ exceed six or 
eight in immber, and are probably composed of the members 
of the same family. Sometimes, however, it associates 
with small birds of other species. The Hight is nnsteady 
and undulating, but is rather rapid, though seldom in- 
dulged in for any but short distanees. 

The nojjj may be said to resemble the syllables " diee- 
chee ^^ uttered jj^iiickly and several limes in sutcessiou ; it 
has a lively sound, but is shrill and not very melodious. 

The nest of the Marsh Titmouse is generally placed in 
holes of old and decayed willow trees, aiid in the stumj^of 



THE MARSH TIT, IS6 

pollards^ and usually the entrance is t^o small to allow of 
the nest being- easily withdrawn. Colonel Montagu says 
he has *^seen this Ijird excavating- the decayed parts of 
such treeSj and artfully carrying" the chips in its bill to 
some distance, always workiug downwards, and making the 
bottom for the reception of the nest larger than the 
entrance/^ Instances are recorded of the nest having 
been placed in a rabbit-burrow or deserted rat's hole. It 
is weU built and strongly compacted of wool, moss, or 
fine dried grass, and lined with the soft seed-down of the 
willow. 

The eggs vary in number from five to eight; they 
measure seven and a half lines in length by about six lines 
in breadth ; in colour they are similar to the eggs of the 
other Titmice — white spotted with red. 

The female shows g-reat fondness for her home, and only 
leaves it with considerable reluctance. 

Tile food of the Marsli__Tit consists of insects in their 
various stages of development ; it is said to have a repre- 
hensible weakne ss^ , f oy b ees, and also feeds on different kinds 
of seeds, i)artieularly tlioje of the sunflower and the thistle ; 
it occasionally visits gardens for the puri)Ose of obtaining 
the former. In fact, "the Marsh Tit may almost be said 
to be omnivorous : nothing comes amiss to it. In winter 
one may easily obtain an opportunity of watching- its 
habits in frosty weather by hanging up a bone, or a lump 
of suet, or even a tallow candle, in the garden. '^ 

The Marsh Tit may be distjnguished from the Cole Tit 
by the absence of the white patch on the nape of the neck, 
nor has it any whitespots on the wing^HCoyerts. 

The beak is black; the irides dark hazel; the fore- 
head, crown, and nape deep black; the back, wing-coverts, 



130 



I'JMILIAIi in [J) BIRDS. 



iiiid u])i)or taiUeovorts asli-hi-own tintj;"o(l with <^roc'n ; 
wiiio" and tail fVatliors g-ivyisli- brown, with the edges 
rather lit^-hter in colour; the tail even at the end ; the chin 
black ; the cheeks^ throat, and breast dull greyish-white ; 
Haid<s, belly, and luider tail-coverts tinged witli light 
brown ; umler-surlace of wing and tail feathers grey ; legs, 
toes, and claws bluish-black. The lenj^lh of tlu; bj^rd is 
about fom'inches and a half. There is no percej)tible dif- 
ference in the plumage o£ the sexes!\ ^ 





^ , /-^' 



^ ■ < 



,..-£>" , 




NIGHTINGALE. 
(§ Scale.) 






^ 



ONJ AKl'.J 



X THE NIGHTINGALE, 




Sylvia luscinia. 
Motacilla „ 
Philomela ,, 



O bird has had so many tributes 
paid to it, both by poets and 
prose^vriters, as this altogether- 
unequalled song-ster. Its voice is 
unrivalled. The Blackcap, Lark, 
Blackbird, Thrush, and Robin, aU 
fail to approach this " Queen of 
Song/' 

Yet few who have read of the 
wonderful power of voice that 
belongs to the Nigihtingales may 
have had the exquisite pleasure of 
hearing one of their delicious 
vocal contests ; for it is when, in 
a still June night. Nightingale 
answers to Nightingale, and all 
the power of their combination of 
sweet sounds is put forth, that 
the entrancing influence of the 
song of the Nightingale is most 
deeply felt. Once heai-d, it is 
never forgotten, be it the plaintive 
long-drawn-out " Wheet, wheet, 
wheet ! '■* or the meHow " Jug, 



R 



13S FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

juop, jug ! " or any of the other numerous and not-to-be- 
described phrases contained in the repertory of this beautiful 
singer. 

Perhaps to compensate for so sweet a voice, the plumage 
of the Nightingale is very plain, although its form is 
graceful. The whole upper part of the bird is rich chest- 
nut brown, slightly brighter upon the wings; the tail, 
which is rather long and rounded, is of a reddish-brown ; the 
breast is dull whitish-grey, somewhat tinged with brown ; 
the throat and under ])art are pale whitish-grey. 

The female is with ditliculty distinguished from the 
male, although she may possibly be smaller, and her eye 
not quite so large and bold. Some say that her throat is 
lighter. 

The young birds are clad in somewhat similar plumage 
to young Robins, inasmuch as the brown is lighter than 
that of the adult birds, and the feathers being tipped with 
buff they have a mottled appearance. 

The Nightingale arrives in England about the early 
part of April, the males preceding the females by about a 
week, or, at times, even a fortnight. As a rule they fly 
to their old retreats, although at times they will desert 
them, even for years, and then return again in augmented 
numbers. At this time the males continually sing, possibly 
with the intention of attracting a mate. 

The usual hai^nts of the Nightingale are groves, small 
shady £»)pses, plantaHons, woods, quiet gardens, and thick 
hedgerows, especially where a little thicket has been 
allowed to grow; and from these retreats, more particularly 
whilst building the nest, the beautiful song of the 
Nigliting-ale is delivered both by day and night. 

The nest is placed in a holjow of the gxound, or in the 



1 



THE NIGHTIXGALE^ 139 

roots or stum p of a tree, or towards the bottom of a hedge- 
row. It is built of various materials, iucluding leaves, dr^ 
grass-stalks, and bits of bark aud fibrous roots, loosely 
constructed, but lined with finer_grasses and horse-hair. 

The eggs are geuerally fi\^ in number, and of an olive- 
green ^colour. 

The food of the Nightingale is almost enti rely in sect- 
ivorous, as it comprises such insects as catermllars, beetles, 
moths and flies, small worms, and the larvte of jints. Some 
birds also eat fruit, such as elderberries and currants. 

The food of the young whilst in the nest is principally 
<.*omposed of small green caterpillars and worms. 

Although Nightingales affect certain districts, where 
many pairs may be found, they notwithstanding keep 
almost strictly in pairs ; and if by chance they meet, they 
will invariably fight, after the manuer of R(^bins. Even the 
spirit of their song is at times uttered as if in a tone of 
acute rivalry, though as a rule it is one impassioned love- 
story, poured out on behalf of the mate who is so patiently 
attending to the duties of incubation. 

Before leaving England, Avliich happens in July and 
August, both the young and adult birds moult, but the 
young ones only partially, as they retain their wing and tail 
feathers. The song, too, of the adult bird ceases in a 
great degree some time in June, as soon as the nesting 
operations are over ; yet these latter are often delayed if 
the first nest is taken or destroyed. The call-note of the 
bird is varied, sometimes being " Purr, piu*r ! " and again 
a sort of " Wheet ! " uttered somewhat sharjily. 

The flight is somewhat short, tliou;i;'h also capal)le of 
much further extension ; and is generally from bush to 
bush, as these birds seldom stray from their usual haunts. 



140 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



The mi<^ration is usually at iii,!^lit, which poculiarity 
may account in a groat degree for their nocturnal singing, 
esjiecially as the males would thereby attract the later- 
arriving females. 

Some naturalists have gone so far as to imagine that 
the day-singers were distinct from the nocturnal ones, and 
others that the parent birds took turns in sitting upon the 
eggs, and that it was the female whose voice so enchanted 
their ears in the stillness of evening; but both these ideas 
are now exploded. 

With care and a sufficiency of proper food a Nightin- 
gale may be kept in an aviary, but Ijetter still in a proju^r 
cage. They are very delicate, and will reipiire some artifi- 
cial heat during wintenj X 




.iAJ<^ 



\ 




CCRMORANT* 
(} Scale.) 



THE CORMORANT. 



Felecanus carbo. 




HIS Im-d is variously Jcnown 
as the Great Cormorant, the 
Black Cormorant, etc., and 
is of very peculiar appear- 
ance. It is well distributed 
over Great Britain, and is a 
well-known hubifnc of* all 
the wijd and rock y por tions 
of our sea-coasts. 

The Cormorant closely re- 
sernbles in general appe;ar- 
ance the Shag, or Green 
Cormorant, and no doubt the 
twTj birds are frequently mis- 
taken the one for the other. 
The bird_ under description is, 
however, larger, blacker in 
l)lumage, and possesses one 
or two other characteristics 
not obseryaJjly i" the Shag. 

The Cormorant is popularly 
supposed to be possessed of 
unusual intelligence, and it 
has for a long time been used 



l<i? FAMILIAR WILD ULRDS. 

in some of the Eastern countries to catch fish for its 
owners. Yarrell states : " The Chinese are said to use 
them at the present time ; the bird is taken to the water- 
side, a metal ring- or leather strap, by way of collar, is put 
on his neck, and he is then set at Hberty to catch a fisli, 
which he brings to hand when called, a small cord being 
attached to him while in training, to insure his return. 
Having satisfied the wants of his master, the collar is taken 
off, and the bird is then allowed to fish for himself." 

This j)ractice was also indulged in to a certain extent 
by our ancestors, as Pennant speaks of one " presented to 
liiin by Mr. Wood, Master of the Cormorants to King 
Charles T.'' 

The bird is very easily domesticated, and in confinement 
speedily shows signs of attachment and partiality to its 
owner. 

During the breeding season these birds resort to certain 
stations, and at these periods congregate sometimes in 
large numbers, appearing to live together in peace and 
liarmony. 

The flight is ri])i(l and strong, ami very near the sur- 
face of the water, ^rhey swim and dive with great ease, 
and are capable of remaining beneath the water for some 
considerable time. Indeed, the distance accomplished by 
the bird in these subaqueous journeys is almost the first 
thing that e.xcites the wonder and admiration of the ob- 
server. 

The nest is lai^e, and made up of sticks, seaweed, and 
long coarse grass ; the higher parts of rocks and cliffs being 
the locajities general lx4)Jcfiirred. 

P'our, five, and even six^eggs are laid, chalky-white in 
colour, varied with pale blue; the surface of the shell is 



THE CORMORANT. 143 

rough, and the egg is similarly shaped at each end. In pro- 
portion to the size of the bird, the e^g is small. 

The bird feeds on fish, and, as already stated, is a skilful 
and successful fisher. Its appetite is voracious, and it 
not unfrequently pays a heavy penalty for its want of 
discrimination. Several instances are recorded in which the 
Cormorant has transfixed an eel with the lower mandible, 
and, not being able to kill or disengage its prey, has been 
strangled by the fish twining itself round its captor's 
throat. 

Besides pursuing its food in the water the bird often 
perches on rocks, posts, or overhanging boughs, where it 
watches for stray aquatic wanderers that may pass. Any 
such luckless fish is pursued and caught with unerring 
certainty. 

Although generally speaking an oceanic bird, the 
Cormorant is no stranger to fresh water ; rivers, lakes, 
and ponds that are abundantly supplied with fish being 
commonly resorted to. According to some naturalists, 
the bird has been met with on the Chinese rivers a 
thousand miles from the sea-shore. 

The leno-th of the male bird is about three feet : in the 

•p ■ - _ _ . •' _ 

spring and early summer the bill is pale brown, the point 
horny, hooked, and sharp ; irides green; forehead, crown, 
nape and part of the neck black, mixed with many white, hair- 
like feathers ; the black feathers on the back of the head 
elongated, and forming a crest ; the back and wing coverts 
dark brown, the feathers margined with black ; quill 
feathers and tail black; lower part of the neck all round, 
with the breast and all the under-surface of the body, a 
rich velvet-like bluish-black, except a patch on the thigh, 
which is white ; the legs, toes, and membranes black. The 



144 



FAMILIAR inil) BIRm 



shape of the foot is peculiar, tlie outside toe bein*^ the 
longest, and the inner one the shortest ; the middle toe is 
serrated on the inner edge ; the tail is stiff and rig-id. 

The fernale is the smaller bird, but her crest is often 
longer than that of the male. 

The young birds are dull brown, the plumage in places 
being mottled with white!\ ^^ 




/UM/-o(^ 




RED-LEGGED PARTRJDGE- 
(J Scale.) 



THE RED-LEGGET) PARTRIDGE. 

Ferdix riifo. Teidix rubra, 

Teti'uo rufus. 




|HIS binl, which is also caUed 
the Gueriisey_ Partridge, and 
French Partrido-e, although 
possessing" many charac- 
teristics in common witli the 
English bird, is, however, 
quite distinct from it ; and 
in nearly all localities where 
the former has gained a 
footing the latter has gradu- 
ally become scarcer. The 
Red-legged Partridge cannot 
strictly be described as a 
British bird, thougli it is 
comparatively common in 
many parts of Great Britain ; 
and from the* large numbers 
exposed for sale in our 
markets and game-shops, 
it is now thoroughly familiar 
to most people. 

The Bed -leg ged Partridge 
is said to have been first 
brought into this country 



14G FAMILIATi WILD BIRDS. 

ill llie reign of the second^ Charles, and since then it has 
been successfully introduced by several noblemen on their 
estates. 

This l)ird is now found more or less in all parts of 
England, but it is most plentiful in the counties of 
Suil'olk, Lincolnshire, Cand)ridi4eshire, Hertfordshire, Dor- 
setshire, Norfolk, Essex, Yorkshire, and Oxfordshire. It 
is a native of several of the countries in the south of 
Europe, and it is also foinid in the Channel Islands. As^ 
an arti^ of food it is not so higlily esteemed as^its 
Eno'lisji relative, the flesh beinf]^ whiter and less succulent ; 
while as an object of sport it certaiidy does not meet with 
much appreciati(ni, as it is wild in its habits, and cannot 
easily be induced to fly, but runs a very considerable 
distance. AVhen wounded it freipiontly secretes itself in 
some hole, rabl)it-burrow, or any similar place of conceal- 
ment. 

The favourite haunts of these bjrcls are heaths, com- 
mons, waste lands, and the bushes and cojises^ of hilly 
grounds ; they are also to be fouiid, like the com mon pa rt- 
ridge, in stubl)les, turni})-fields, and cultivated lands; they 
run with great (j^uickness, and sometimes indulge in very 
long^flights; indeed, they are occasionally found on the sea- 
shore, so completely_exhausted and fatigued as to l)e quile 
unable to escai)e capture. 

Cornfields and patches of grass or clover are (he j)l:ices 
commonly selected by the Red-legged Partridge for nest- 
ing. The nest is composed of di'ied grass and leaves, and 
sometimes a few feathers roughly scratched together. 
According to some writers, the nest has been found in the 
thatch of a hayrick. The eggs are of a reddish, yellowish- 
wlute, spotted and speckled with brownish-red, and vary 



THE liED-LEGGEl) rARTIilDUE, 147 

in nutTiber from ten to sixteen or eighteen ; tliey are about 
one inch and a half h)ng, and an inch and a quarter broad. 
The entire duties of incubation and rearing* the young 
devolve upon the female. Like all the other members of 
this class^ the young ones quit the nest immediately they 
are hatched^ their capabilities for running and feeding 
being developed at a very early stage of their existence. 

They feed on grtiin, clover, and other seeds, flies, 
beetles, caterpillars, ants and their eggs, grubs, and small 
snails, and are much addicted to scfatcliing in the dry earth 
for_food. 

When flushed these birds do not always leave the 
ground simultaneously, as is the case with the common 
partridge ; but one or more will perch on some gate, post, or 
stone that may be close at hand, and are not unfrequently 
shot whilst perching in this way. Or they will scatter in 
all directions, each one runjiing for the nearest_hedge with 
incredible speed. The flight is strong, rapid, and often 
sustained for some considerable distance. 

Even at a distance these biixis may very easily be dis- 
tinguished from the Common Partridge, as they are larger, 
darker, and the whirring sound made by the wings in fljglit 
is altogether different. 

The note is said to closely resemble the word " cokileke,""^ 
and is most frequently heard in the spring. 

The plumage of the Red-legged Partridge is handsome. 
The beak is red, a black streak passes from the nostrils to 
the eye, and thence downwards and forwards, making 
a gorget of black, from which streaks and spots of black 
descend towards the breast ; irides are reddish-orange ; 
eyelids vermilion. Back of neck, back, rump, wing and 
tail coverts are brownish, the plumage being smooth and 



148 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



bio n tied ; tail-feathers chestnut ; .breast pearl-grey; belly, 
vent, and under tail-coverts fawn colour ; sides, flanks, 
and thiu,'lis are barred with white, black, pearl-grey, and 
fawn colour; legs and toes red; claws brown. The male 
has on the leg a rounded knob in the place of a sjuir. 

The female resemldes the male, excei)t that her plumage 
is not so bright, and the markings are not so well defined. 
She is also devoid of the knob-like spur on the legj )( 




-^T: ^W' 



tl 



^*^ 




COLE TIT. 

(i Scale.) 



X 



THE COLE TIT. 



Panis (iter. 




IHIS pretty and active little 
bird is very well known in 
almost every county in Great 
Britain. It is certainly not 
so^ numerous as the Blue Tit, 
but its geographical distri- 
bution is quite as wide and 
impartial. The places of 
resort most favoured by 
these birds are woods, plan- 
tations, and shrubberies, 
especially those containing 
any sorts of fir trees, birch, 
or oak; not infrequently they 
may be observed in little 
parties in furze-brakes and 
tangled thickets near streams. 
The general habits of the 
Cole__Tit are very similar to 
those of the Blue Tit 7 it is 
incessantly in motion, actively 
searching for its food among 
the branches of the trees 
above mentioned. It is very 



150 J- AM 1 LI A U 111/./) nilUiS. 

careful and persistent in its scrutiny of the bou^h up^n 
which it is engaged^ running- nimbly round the under sur- 
face and the sides; and then, when its curiosity is satisfied, 
proceeding; with a short Hutterinj^- tlight to the next. 

The Cole _Tit is a very soci^djle little bird, and may 
frequently be se^n in the company of Golden Crests, 
Lesser Red-j>olls, and similar small tree-frequentinojjirds, 
rovin<^ about in quest of food. This consists principally 
of insects, caterpillars, and beech masts, and seeds of various 
kinds. Mr. Teg-etmeier gives an instance in the Field of 
its feeding- on lilberts. 

This bird remains with us all the year round, and 
seems to be very little affected by cold weather, as it is 
found in mid-winter in the most northerly parts of Scot- 
land, and even in higher latitudes. 

The tlig-ht is seldom a very extended one. Tin- motion of 
the wings may be described as '^ a continual fluttering" 
and the movement altogether weak, short, and unsteady. 
In the winter-time these birds are fond of roosting in leafy 
evergreens and the protected sides of hnystacks. 

The bird makes no pretensions to vocal proficiency ; the 
note is not very harmonious — indeed, it . may rather be 
called harsh and shrill — it sounds very much likf the 
svllables " che-chee, che-chee/^ AVhen a number of these 
birds are engaged in searching for food the shrill cheeping 
note is perpetually uttered. In addition to this note, the 
bird, when sitting in its nest, makes an unpleasant Jiissing 
noise suggestive of snakes if molested or too closely ap- 
proached. 

The nest is very frequentlv placed in a hob' in a ti;ee, 
and as a rule at a less. heig[it from the ground than that 
of the other Titmice; Init various places are made use 



THE COLE TIT^ 151 

o£ for nesting purposes, such as a hole in a wall or bank, 
the hollows about the exposed root^s of trees, or even the 
deserted hole of a mouse w' i"it. Sometimes a small hole 
will be enlarged by the birds themselves. 

The nest is made up of a miiss of fine moss, dry grass, 
hair, and wool; it is always lined very thickly with 
feathers. Six or eight_eggs are Jaid ; they resemble the 
eggs of the rest of the Titmice — white spotted with red. 
The male bird is said often to take his turn at sitting, 
and incubation lasts about fourteen days. 

The young birds are at first fed almost entirely on 
caterpillars ; where these birds are plentiful large numbers 
of caterpillars must be destroyed at these times, as the 
parents are most assiduous in their attention to their off- 
spring, and may be observed going to and from the nest 
almost continually. 

The adult male has the beak Itlaek ; the irides hazel ; the 
cheeks and sides of the neck^ white ; the head, ear-coverts, 
and the lower part of the sides of the neck before the wing, 
black ; back and wing-coverts bluish-grey, the smaller and 
larger coverts ending with a spot of white on each feather, 
forming two conspicuous white bars across the wings ; the 
quill feathers brownish-grey, edged with green ; the 
tertials tipped with dull white ; upper tail-coverts greenish 
fawn colour ; tail feathers brownish-grey ; tail slightly 
forked. The chin and throat black; breast dull white; 
belly, flanks, and under tail-coverts fawn colour, tinged 
with green ; under surface of wing and tail feathers, grey ; 
legs, toes, and claws black. The entire len_gth of the bird 
is about four_inches and a quarter. The Cole JCit may at 
once be distinguished from the Marsh Tit by the white 
patch on the naj-)e. 



152 



FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 



There is very little difference in the plumage of the 
sexes, but in the young birds the white markings are not 
so pure, and the black colour about the head is less decided. 

The Cole Tit has been met with in Norway, and is said 
to ]je a resident in Sweden and Siberia. It is_tolerably 
well distributed over many of the European countries^ )( 




#* 



/> 



U^n^,. 



l.^l FAMILIAR WILD BIRDS. 

same spot as a breecling"-plaee at one and the same time, 
yet no confusion or misunderstandings arise between the 
oc'eu])ants. The Guillemots keep a ledg'e of the rock 
entirely to themselves; the Razorbills and Gulls do like- 
wise; and we have it on vmdoubted authority that the 
various families keep strictly to their own precincts, and do 
not attempt any intrusion on the domains of their neig'h- 
bours. This is the more remarkabh', as u|ion some of the 
larger breeding stations the various birds may be reckoned 
by many thousands. 

The Guillemot lays <mly one eijg ; it is large considering 
the size of the bird, and shaped somewhat like a pear ; the 
colour is a fine bluish-green, more or less blotched and 
streaked with dark reddish-brown or black ; the length is 
about three inches and a quarter, and nearly two inches 
in width. The eggs of this bird differ very considerably 
in colour, some being almost of a white ground, and others 
with scarcely any secondary markings on them. The 
Guillemot deposits her Q^<g upon the bare rock, making no 
attempt to form a nest ; incubation lasts nearly a month, 
during which time the parent bird sits perfectly upright, 
and certainly presents a very comical ai)pearance. The 
eggs are considerably i)rized as articles of food, and the 
dangerous process of collecting them is on many j)arts 
of the coast a regular occuj)ation. 

The young Guillemots are at first covered with a sort 
of bristly hair which ai)])ears to be quite impervious to the 
water. Unlil the young birds are taken to the water they 
are fed with ]iortions of fish. It has often puzzled natur- 
alists to account for the modus operandi adopted by the 
old l)irds in transporting their progeny to the sea. Mr. 
Waterton, in his account of a visit to the rock-bird breed- 



THE GUILLEMOT.^ 155 

iiig- localities about Flamboroug"1i Head says^ " I carried a 
good telescope with me ; through it I saw numbers of 
young Guillemots diving- and sporting on the sea^, quite 
unable to Hy ; and I observed others on the ledges of the 
rocks as I went down among them^ in such situations that, 
had they attempted to fall into the waves beneath, they 
would have been killed by striking against the projecting 
points of the intervening sharp and rugged rocks ; where- 
fore I concluded that the information of the rock-climbers 
was correct, viz., that the youug birds were carried to the 
sea on the backs of the old ones/^ 

The Guillemot is essentially a quiet bird, and seldom 
gives vent to any utterance save an occasional guttural 
croak. It will even allow its egg to be stolen without 
making any vocal sign of displeasure or remonstrance. 

These birds with their young' forsake their breeding 
stations about the end of August; they then take to the 
open sea, remaining there both day and night, and in some 
cases at great distances from the land. 

The Guillemot bears a strong general resembbmce to 
the Divers, both in appearance and habits. The food con- 
sists of small fishes of various kinds, and also small Crus- 
tacea. It swims and dives with ease, but is seen to very 
little advantage on dry land, where its movements are awk- 
ward and apparently uncertain. 

When submerged, the bird uses the wings as a propel- 
ling power, and the rapidity of its motion, coupled with 
its easy and graceful evolutions, are matters of astonish- 
ment to all who have had an opportunity of observing 
them. 

In the summer months the bill, which is of moderate 
length, strong and pointed, is black ; the inside of the 



15C 



FAMILIAR iriLL BIRDS. 



mouth orange ; the irides very dark brown ; head, neck 
all round at the u])i)er \)x\\i, and on the sides and hind j)art 
below, the back, tail, and winj^-s, except the .secondaries, sooty 
black ; lower part of neck in front, and all the under sur- 
face of the body pure white; lej^s, toes, and their mem- 
branes, dark brownish-black ; the whole leng-th of the male 
bird is about eighteen inches. The females are a trifle 
smaller than the males. 

In addition Ui our own seas, the common Guillemot is 
found in summer in various parts of Scandinavia, the Faroe 
Islands, and as far in the Arctic seas as Nova Zembla and 
Spitsbergen. It is also met with on the coasts of Holland 
and France, and very occasionally in the Mediterranean 

Sea^X^ 




rfS^jij»4»*«**' 



''U /W (i 



/^- 




■^j^VLTTt 



OYSTER-CATCHER. 

(S Scale.) 



y THE OYSTER-CATCHER. 

Hccmatopm ostralegus. 




HIS handsome and active bird 
is tolerabl}^ common on the 
shores o£ Great Britain^ and 
may be generally found 
where long ridges of shingle 
banks, and beds of low rocks, 
promise a plentiful supply 
of mussels and other shell- 
fish. The very strongly 
marked contrasts in the 
plumage, which are so notice- 
able in llight, have gained 
for it the name of Seaj^ie, 
and perhaps it is. better 
known under this title than 
any othei*. 

The Oyster-catcher is not 
so entirely devoted to the sea- 
shore as its names might im- 
ply, for it is very frequently 
seen on the banks of large 
rivers and lakes, many miles 
inland ; and in some parts 
of the country it migrates 



158 I.IMILIAR WILD nih'fiS!. 

every summei- into the interior, and breeds upon tlie banks 
of rivers and sniiill_ islets. At these times the O3 ster- 
eateher feeds upon the wornis and g'rul)s to be found in 
pastures and grass fields; but the ordinary food consists 
of lini2>ets, mussels and other bivalves, sea-worms, and 
marine inseets. 

The bill of this bird is well worthy of notice, as it is 
admira])]y adapted for procurini"- the i>artieular food to 
which its owner is so ])artial. It is about three inches in 
length, greatly com])ressed, and terminates in a thin verti- 
cal wedge ; indeed, just the instrument to insert between 
the two portions of a bivalve and extract the contents. 
The Oyster-catcher is quite an adept in the use of his bill, 
and it is said that even the most stubbornly lixed limpets 
are dislodged with ease and rapidity. 

In the winter months these birds congregate in Hocks 
differing considerably in size ; but when the sjn-ing ap- 
proaches these Hocks are broken up and the biids ])air for 
the breedini»- season ; but the Oyster-catcher is naturally 
of social habits, and even alter ])airing many couples will 
proceed to the same locality and breed together. 

Yvry littl e troub le is expeiided on the iiest, as in the 
majority of cases the eggs are laid in a slight hollow 
scratched in the bare shingly ground. Four_eggs are 
usually liud, of a yellowish ston e co lour, h^potted with ash- 
grey and dark brown ; they are about two inches in length 
and one inch and a half in breadth. 

The male is very attentive to his mate during incuba- 
tion, and both l»irds exhibit great anxiety to decoy or frighten 
away any troublesome intruder. The female sits for about 
three weeks, and the young birds when hatched are covered 
with a pretty soft down of a greyish-brown colour 



THE OYSTER.CATCHER. 169 

The Oystei'-catcher is very easily domesticated. Some 
years ago a flock was kept in the grounds of the Royal 
PaviHon, Brio^hton, where they attracted a great deal of 
attention. The writer well recollects an Oyster-catcher in 
the west of England that lived many years in a fowl-yard ; 
it was quite tame, and associated with the fowls and 
pigeons in the most friendly way. According to Pennant^ 
the Finns hold this bird in the utmost detestation ; for they 
suppose that when they are engaged in seal-chasing it 
gives timely notice to the seals of the approach of the 
hunters, and by that means frightens away their game. 
The peasants in the north-eastern parts of Scotland, how- 
ever, regard it very differently, and consider its early ap- 
pearance inland as a sure sign of a mild and productive 
season. 

In addition to Great Britain, the Oyster-catcher is 
found on all the coasts of Southern Europe, Denmark, 
Sweden, and the Scandinavian shores; and it is said to be 
well-known throughout Russia, Siberia, and Kamschatka, 
and to breed on most of the large Arctic flats. 

The leno'th of the Oyster-catcher is about sixt een in ches; 
the beak at the base is deep orange, growing lighter towards 
the tip ; the irides crimson ; the eyelids reddish-orange, 
and there is a white spot below the eye ; the head, neck, 
upper part of the breast, and greatest part of the wings 
are black ; there is a white bar across the wings, and the 
tail is white about half-way from the rump, the end half 
being black. All the under portions of the body and wings 
are white. The legs and toes (the latter being three in 
number and all directed forward) are of a purplish flesh 
colour; the claws black. In the winter months the birds 
have a gorget of white round the front of the neck, and in 



160 



I'AMiLiAR iriLj) mnns. 



some instances this mark is retained over a f;^reat portion of 
the spring-. 

Tlie Oyster-catcher is a rather shy bird, not easy to 
be approached chjsely except daring the breedino^ season, 
when it becomes bokler and apparently less cautious, ^^'hen 
alarmed it utters a peculiar shrill whistling cry, which 
also may be often heard at nig-ht as the birds are going to 
or returning from their feeding grounds. 

Occa^onal instances have been noted of this bird 
having been met with almos^ entirely white, and others 
of a i)ale-fa\vn colourj X 




■?/. 



83 






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CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

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